Not too long ago I read C.S. Lewis’s “The Four Loves.” I underlined passages and bracketed entire paragraphs and sticky-noted pages that moved me, paragraphs, passages and pages that were more than just words—they were new ideas and perspectives coming to life and dancing a complex waltz through my mind. The book was a mess by the time I finished it, but it was the kind of mess that invites the reader back for seconds, thirds, even fourths, and this past semester, I found myself flipping back through the pages. You see, this semester was challenging. My schedule was packed, and I was adding to my to-do list faster than I was crossing off. I was splendidly busy, and I believe it is in my busiest seasons that I thank God most abundantly for friendships—because it is in my busiest seasons that I miss my friendships the most.
Friendships are first to be set aside until I have more time, almost as if friendships are a luxury I can’t afford when time becomes sparse, as if friendships aren’t imperative. C.S. Lewis explains this idea perfectly when he writes, “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself (for God did not need to create). It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” You see, just because something isn’t necessary for survival doesn’t mean it’s any less beautiful, any less appreciated in the fullness of its existence. Imagine this “unnecessary” universe existing without the colors of anger, the expressions of love, the stunning ideas which sprout from the minds of philosophers. If these are what fall under “unnecessary,” then unnecessary must be a splendid place for all the enrichments of life.
I am always in awe when somebody shows me love in my most unlovable states. Days when I wake up in a bad mood, yet those around me still appreciate me, those are the days when I know for certain God’s love is much mightier than me. I’m not proud to say that there have been many times this semester in which I have been a poor friend. I’ve been self-absorbed and busy even when I see a friend of mine in need. Every time I’ve noticed this, it has been because the friend in need has shown me the love I don’t deserve. It has been humbling beyond measure to realize that God surrounds me with the people He knows will show me His love when I can’t seem to find it for myself. There are days when I can feel God with me, and on those days I live joyfully with my savior and best friend at my side. However, there are other days when I struggle to recognize God’s face in a crowd of animosity, when I fail to feel His hand’s work in my struggles. Those days I live less joyfully. I’ve had more of those days this semester.
But God is greater, and God is stronger, and God is so incredibly clever. On those lackluster days, He feeds me joy in the simplest of ways: through the very friendships I’ve neglected. By doing this, God reminds me of two vital truths that I so often forget in times of busyness. One: He will never leave me nor forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6) even when I wander really far from Him. And when I struggle to see Him, He’s not going to stop trying, because two: God has given me the most beautiful friendships, and He uses these exquisite souls to show me snippets of His love when I am focused too much on earth to grasp His unfailing love. It is because of these two truths that I reflect on this semester with a full, beaming heart.
Later in “The Four Loves,” in his chapter on friendship love, C.S. Lewis writes, “You will not find the warrior, the poet, the philosopher or the Christian by staring in his eyes as if he were your mistress: better fight beside him, read with him, argue with him, pray with him.” How unusual a love friendship is, but how invaluable a blessing. This semester has been one of fighting, reading, arguing, praying and of loving, loving, loving, with these friends God has been gracious enough to give me.
Source: “The Four Loves” by C.S. Lewis