By: Candy Tolbert
Colleen Marie Robertson Hughes is my best friend. I close my eyes, press rewind, and am instantly back in 8th grade - a new transfer student at Coolidge Junior High School. I stand by my locker when a tall, friendly, blonde girl that I noticed in the halls days before approaches me to ask if I would like to attend her birthday party. "Sure." I thankfully retort. "Ever had a best friend?" she asks several weeks later. "No, I reply." "You?" "No." Coll says. "Wanna be best friends?" "OK," I say, with no hesitation.
And that's how it began. Forty-eight years later - that's the way it is.
I read somewhere that Psychologists estimate between 500-2500 acquaintances are made in the course of our life through leisure, work, and religious activities. Some of these become core friends whom we know by name and see more regularly. But one to seven intimate friends emerge at the top of our list. These are the people who are described in Proverbs 18:24. They stick closer than a brother and share our joys and sorrows.
Of my list of seven - Colleen is at the top. We've shared the ups and downs of life - everything from the day we got our driver's license to missions assignments in Europe to our wedding days. She was with me the day my first child was born. I stood by her side at the casket of her dad. But apart from these and many other divinely appointed moments is the fact our friendship has served as a sharp tool for producing Christ-likeness in our lives.
In thinking about Coll today, I realize I'm a better person for all the things she brings to my life. Namely:
Fun - Laughing with her keeps me emotionally healthy (and we laugh a lot when we're together).
Realignment - She helps provide clear perspective when I need it most.
Invigoration - She pushes me out of my comfort zone.
Encouragement - Through my toughest times, her voice can be trusted.
I've heard numerous definitions of friendship but here is my favorite:
Friendship is a watch that beats true - and never runs down for all time.
This adage beautifully depicts the timeless story of Ruth and Naomi as a deep and lasting friendship forms between them amidst national unrest and personal tragedy (Ruth 1). They were soul mates; a relationship bound together by love, loyalty, and commitment which helped pull them through the hardest of times and continued to teach them about the true importance of faith, families, and following God. Their commitment to each other and to God's care brought them great peace and unexpected blessings (Ruth 2-3). Ultimately both widows find joy - Ruth in remarriage and Naomi in her role as grandmother (Ruth 4).
Have you ever had a friendship that you knew would last a lifetime? Have you ever committed yourself to a relationship "no matter what"? Have you ever trusted someone with anything and everything? If you've had these experiences or have prayed to find a close friend, I encourage you to read the story of Ruth. You will discover how Ruth and Naomi's friendship and their vow of lifelong loyalty pulled them through the hardest of times. Their voices of faith have much to say to us about the true importance of friends and families.
I love you Coll. Our watch still keeps perfect time!