Wednesday, August 3, 2011


What is a real friendship? What is a real friendship with someone who is in poverty, in transitional housing, a drug dealer, a prostitute, homeless?

Is it different? How?

Sorry if those sounds like accusing questions, I don't mean them to be so. They are questions I have been asking myself for over a year now, but especially in the last two months. Before starting art programs or workshops, before planning weekly dinners and breakfasts and parties... I am trying to know my neighbor. I am trying to be friends with my neighbors. And the people mentioned above, these are many of my neighbors.

It's not that I have a hard time loving people, as long as I remain dependent on God, my love is coming from Him and He helps me love in ways I don't understand and wouldn't be capable of on my own. It is real friendship, the kind that you long for as a kid. I desire friendships that are mutually beneficial, that sincere trust is present in, and that we have shared experiences together.

Is this idealism? Unrealistic hopes?

If we can have these expectations with the friendships we make in the safety of classrooms, sports teams and work, can't we have them with our matter who they are?

I think it is possible. I just think it's complicated.

Luke 5:30 "And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?"

Maybe I have this wrong, but I don't think they were all sitting together and sharing a meal in silence. They were chatting about the daily catch of fish, how the market was, and all the ways Jesus was stirring things up around town. These were spiritual conversations with friends!

It gives me hope. I am already beginning real friendships with my neighbors, I am, and I'm excited. Both myself and my neighbors have barriers and walls built up, we have reasons why we shouldn't be friends, well, society has reasons why we shouldn't be friends. But Jesus tells me something different.

"The holiness of Jesus, it seems, is a redemptive, missional, world-embracing holiness that does not separate itself from the world, but rather liberates it." [Untamed, Alan and Deb Hirsch]

There are so many layers to these relationships, and we need to stay close to the Holy Spirit in order to discern what is right and what is fishy. Jesus did it perfectly, and as much authority as we do receive from Him, we won't get everything right. His holiness was so compelling to the least and the broken, the one's no one else would approach. What a beautiful holiness that is!

Because Sher and I are single, young women, it complicates our friendships, too. And even though we might not see these relationships as "options" - they do. When was the last time someone smiled, someone cared, someone was genuinely interested in them, anyway? It has been a long time. *We do not consider them options because we are above them or anything to do with status, it is because of the way we are trying to live, love and maintain personal boundaries. I love these guys and could fall in love with many of them (:

This is a long quote, but Jean Vanier (From Brokenness To Community) says it perfectly:

"Those with whom Jesus identifies himself are regarded by society as misfits. And yet Jesus is that person who is hungry; Jesus is that woman who is confused and naked. Wouldn't it be extraordinary if we all discovered that? The face of the world would be changed. We would then no longer want to compete in going up the ladder to meet God in the light, in the sun and in beauty, to be honored because of our theological knowledge. Or if we did want knowledge, it would be because we believe that our knowledge and theology are important only so long as they are used to serve and honor the poor."

Can I really say anything else? This is why I yearn for friendship. Praying that God brings us true friendship with our beloved in Uptown, that we are humble enough to accept the friendship offered to us, and sharp enough to discern the Spirit in every interaction.


Stefano e Amy said...

Bellissimo Emma. May God continue to bless your "friendly" heart-and your new found friends through you.

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