A friend’s daughter faced a powerful dilemma this past weekend. This incredibly talented young lady has been participating in karate competitions over the past few years and has quickly advanced to new levels as she has earned each new belt. Recently, she has recognized the need for a new karate uniform as she prepares to compete in an upcoming tournament. The decision set before her was that she could get a new uniform; it would just be very simple— white, no embroidery, no name or patches. But it would have the name of her new school on it. Unfortunately, the “need” for a higher quality uniform was just not high enough to justify the increased spending. According to her mother, she was okay with this… for about two minutes.
It was then that she remembered she had been saving money for an iPad. Knowing full well that the iPad would be put on the ((way)) back burner, she offered her mother every penny she had to help pay for a new uniform. Why? Because in her eyes, “an iPad isn’t important.” This was coming from a child who had wanted this machine for at least a year, if not more.
Her mother talked to her instructors about it as they worked to purchase the new uniform together, and the looks on their faces as they reacted to her very grown-up decision apparently surprised her.
On the way home she questioned: “Mom, what if we lived in a world just like this one— only we had to pay for friendship?”
Her mother said, “Wow, that wouldn’t be a fun place at all, huh? Is this what you talked about in school today?”
“No,” her daughter replied. “I was just thinking about it when we were talking about what things are and aren’t important… And I think that if the people in this world lived in a world where they had to pay for friendship, not a lot of people would have friends. They’d choose the other things like fancy clothes, makeup, and an iPad.”
Her mother had this to say on her Facebook page that night: “I love it when my 7-year-old’s logic reaches out way over even my own span of thought…. But I hate it when she does it in the back seat so I can’t immediately embrace her.”
At first, the sheer cuteness in this story made me smile. There’s something about the honesty of children that transcends the nitty-gritty of daily life. But the more I thought about this child’s comments, the more I realized that we truly take our friends for granted. What if we had to pay for a good quality friend? Would we skimp on the expense or would we seek out those who would certainly prove to be priceless?
This story served to remind me of a conversation I had with a dear friend recently. She called me when I was walking through the grocery store, and at the beginning of our conversation, I was a bit distracted. But when she told me the reason for her call, I stopped dead in my tracks. You see, the night before, I had prayed and agonized over a difficult decision. When I woke up that morning, I still had not come to a decision, and it was tearing me apart inside.
My friend confessed that she had been thinking about the same issue and that she had considered a way for both of us to move forward without compromising in any way. We talked for a few minutes longer (but not so long that I was one of those annoying people in the supermarket talking loud on their cell phone), and all the while I thought about the impeccable timing of that phone call. “You’re an answer to my prayers,” I remember telling this friend as we ended our conversation. “Thank you for setting my mind at ease.”
In the past few weeks, I have been particularly intentional about my relationships and how I invest in them. I want to be the best friend I can be through intentional conversation, listening and truly hearing a person out, praying for and with a person, and opening my heart to incredible moments like I experienced in the grocery store.
I truly believe that solid, God-honoring friendships are priceless— worth more than gold or any riches of the world. There is not a single iPad, karate uniform, or material possession that could ever equal the privilege and honor of walking in friendship with someone else. We have been placed on this earth to be in relationship with each other, and it’s simply a blessing to know that the most priceless things in life are indeed free! Here’s to friendship!