Joy cracks conformity.
“Mom,” my seven-year old wept as she slunked against the cold window on the way home from school, “it happened again.”
A chill stemmed from my heart to the heated steering wheel as I swiped the volume down.
“Same person?” I pressed.
“One stopped, but there’s still one more.”
Kids are funny about what they share, aren’t’ they? Brianne unravels the truth as she needs mine to apply to it. Perfect, because I can’t handle the whole story at once emotionally, anymore than she can digest the entirety of my reaction/advice.
“I thought it was only one person doing it…” I said in a fake, I’m-not-angry-about-it-at-all tone.
“Well, there were more, but now there’s just one …and she keeps erasing my mascot.” The tears were now visible in the rear view mirror, and I could barely drive I wanted to hug her so bad.
“Your mascot?” My own tears blocked the road.
“Yes, Happy Heart…my mascot,” she explained.
“Well that’s-not very-nice and I’m-so sorry,” I blurted in a cracked tone.
“The thing I don’t get is that she’s my friend…”
Now she was full on crying, and so was I…and so was little sis Lo.
Some friend. I had to pull back from the conversation and revert to comforting mode before I let my anger drive my mouth and call the kid’s parents. Later on, I yearned to define what a true friend was to my daughter…so I Googled it. Dictionary.com says a friend is:
- A person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
- A person who gives assistance; patron; supporter
- A person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile
- A member of the same nation, party, etc.
- V. Make friends with, to enter into friendly relations with; become a friend to.”
No where in that list of definitions does it require one friend to conform to another, yet we have mixed reactions to differences in qualifying and ranking our friendships, don’t we? Let’s face it, sometimes Emo Joe is a ‘ way cooler’ mascot than Happy Heart. The challenge to define and find friendship requires a look inward at how to be a good friend.
“In all this you greatly rejoice, though. Now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fireman result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1Peter1:6-7
I think a little bit of Jesus Christ is revealed right in these two verses, shedding light on the definition of friendship in two ways:
A good friend is genuine, a trait revealed by trials.
Jesus is genuine. He was tested and put through trials, leaving no doubt of His faith, glory, and honor. Strong’s Concordance says the word genuineness in Greek is adolos, meaning “free from fraud.” Jesus knew fraud. He experienced it. Upon His arrest, all twelve apostles fled. They failed that friend test. Imagine the betrayal Jesus felt, when just hours earlier they were all hanging out with Him, appalled at innuendos of betrayal within their circle. Jesus died for them anyway, forgiving them long before they knew to apologize. He did not let it affect who He was or what He was called to do. Aim to apply the forgiveness of failure to your friendships, and allow them to stick around long enough to travel through trials.
Erase the mistakes. Put the good back up.
Forgive and forget or forgo friendship. Jesus gets erased, but He doesn’t give up. He is repeatedly being removed by an increasingly secular society. Merium Webster’s definition of secular is: “of, relating to or controlled by the government rather than the church.” I personally don’t want to be ruled by either.
“The LORD is my strength…I WILL praise Him.”- Exodus 15:2 (emphasis added.)
“Draw the Happy Heart,” I told Brianne, “Keep putting it back up.”
It’s hard to rescind the urge to hide my child from hurt, but it’s important to pray through the appropriate times to let go and let them be lights. Though the darker side of life will attempt to snuff them out, light cannot be erased.
“Be joyful always.” 1Thes 5:16
The joy eluded to in the verse above doesn’t just appear immediately in our hearts. We have to find it and fight for it.
“In 1Thes 5:16–18 Paul turns from instructions covering attitudes and actions toward fellow believers and other human beings to instructions dealing with attitudes toward God.” -NIV Application Commentary
What is our attitude toward God? Do we think of Him in fulfillment of those definitions of friendship above? It should be the first place our minds drift, because even secular socialites will admit the fault in humanity to execute those definitions to perfection. But Jesus did…and can…and does.
God tells us to “be joyful” not “be lemmings.” You’re stomach’s going to drop every time the heart is erased.
It’ll never feel right because we are not of this world.
You are a crack in the ice.
Humans are human. Don’t get mad at “the eraser.” Don’t let the sound of footsteps scattering break your spirit. Don’t hold any one person accountable for one Savior’s job. Don’t be naive, but your friends off the hook of perfection.
“Did you put the Happy Heart back up?” I asked one night over spaghetti and meatballs.
“Yep!” she smiled, blue eyes especially sparkling, “And he’s holding up a sign that says J.A.M.!!”
J.A.M. for Jesus And Me…She’s the proudest new member of the kids praise and worship team at church. Erase her mascot, but can’t get to her heart.
“Love, companionship, devotion …these are all synonyms for friendship, and all descriptions of walking with Jesus. We’re all going to fail each other at some point, but He will never.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17
At all times, and especially in adversity. The light will fight it’s way through…the ice will crack. You needn’t look any further for the best friend you’ll ever find. It’s Jesus’ joy that cracks conformity. It’s through Him alone that we tap into the light of His Father. Lean into Him when you’re being squeezed.
In a world freezing fast…seek Him…the crack in the ice.