“A friend loves at all times” Proverbs 17:17
“Who are we seeing today, Mommy?” the tone in my six-year-old son’s voice was pleading, and I tried to distinguish it from whiney. I know my child is homeschooled and does not see his peers every day for multiple hours on-end. I am not sure that is a bad thing. I used to see my peers (product of public school here) every day at school. At age six, I had maybe one or two friends who came over to my house maybe once or twice, and that’s it. Is age six really a pivotal time for forming friendships? I am not sure. I know, for myself, it was important to be around other kids and just feel like I was a part of something bigger than myself. I am not sure every six-year-old would agree, but being around peers and teachers could be exhilarating. So, I struggle to create that same kind of environment for my own. Am I discontent? No, I am happy to keep him here with me and enjoy the special time we have together. I get the best part of him, every day.
Being in Community
However, I do need for him to see others and think outside of himself. I think that is a virtue, to be able to relate to others in a winsome and kind way. So, how am I fostering these opportunities for my child? Well, there are activities like sports and camps and the like. There is church. How about doing life together with neighbors? This is a work in progress, but slowly, God has allowed us to see that there are other friends out there, some of them homeschooled, while others are not.
We have a family or two we see pretty regularly who have children similar to our own in age and gender; we really enjoy the company of the parents, too! We do not take this for granted. These friends are homeschooled. On the other hand, each week, we try to commit to being in community with our church family on Sundays and midweek. At the midweek night life group, the adults meet separately, and the children have their own program, divided into age groups. My son relishes the chance to see kids his own age and talk to them, play games like kickball and dodgeball, and just learn the Bible alongside them. I am not sure how much of it is just him wanting to fit in, to have a sense of belonging, but I do think he needs others in a way that maybe I did not since I already had so much of that at school when I was his age. My child is very impressionable, so I do need to be vigilant as to who he befriends. Nonetheless, the kids he sees at church, by and large, are mostly schooled at a local private, Christian school. They are not homeschoolers, but this can also be good for him to see kids who are different from himself in lifestyle, but not different in the faith. There are some solid boys in that group, whose families I adore. So, we are thankful.
All the same, we have had to learn some hard lessons. The rejection from a so-called friend is painful. Will so-and-so want to play with me, or are the plans going to fall through… again? This thought must have crossed his mind, and maybe he is just left confused. At any rate, he has some hard lessons to learn. Friends (or people you used to call friends) will betray you. They will fall out of touch. We are apt to lose touch with others when we put forth little-to-no effort. Those superficial friendships will not hold up, and if you lose them, you lose them. Let’s move on.
Proverbs and Jesus
Let’s remember the proverb, “a friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17). Let’s not forget to forgive and maybe give someone a second chance, but let’s also remember that in this broken world, the natural friendships are lacking. Jesus is the only TRUE friend who will ALWAYS love you and be there for you. Are you investing time in Him? I think this conversation is on the horizon for me and my son. When we lose one friend, how can we focus on being a friend to someone? How can we be a friend to someone who may not have many friends? If there is someone with whom you mesh, praise God! But look for those on the outside. Be like Jesus to them, pointing them to His kind of friendship, the kind that isn’t wishy-washy or lukewarm. A friend loves at all times. Jesus is a friend of mine. Laying down his life… a friend loves at all times!