“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
– Proverbs 17:17 (ESV)
Friendships built through sport can last a lifetime. Athletes spend hours of practice time and game situations with their teammates. They compete for playing time, they sweat together, and they share the highs and lows that every season brings. There’s something about those shared experiences that stay with us regardless of the passing of time. Why else would silver-haired men and women go to such great lengths to attend a reunion of former teammates fifty years after they played? As coaches, we love the satisfaction of seeing players grow and develop individually and as a team. One of my greatest joys is to run into a former athlete and spend time catching up on his life and re-telling stories from years gone by. We just pick up where we left off. The relationship seems to have grown stronger with time.
Very few people experience true friendship. That’s because true friendship requires an intentional investment of time and energy to develop. It takes time to develop trust, openness and mutual respect. Lasting friendship is often revealed through times of crisis. Great friends not only rejoice with you, they cry with you too. Two people agreeing to walk through life together in trust and loyalty. Friends share common memories and often relive the mutual history of joy and pain. We also need a spiritual friend. A spiritual friend is someone who will ask the tough questions and hold us accountable. Spiritual friends believe in each other, build one another up, and grow together in their relationship with God. Finally, to have a great friend requires us to be a great friend. Think about it.
Heavenly Father, help me to build lasting friendships today. Open my eyes to the daily opportunities You give me to build up and encourage others. Amen.