I loved Valentine’s Day as a young child and into my adolescent years because everyone got to participate, and equity is my love language. In my twenties, I hated it due to the ways that singles were marginalized or made to feel less significant. In my thirties, I was indifferent because I was too busy with graduate studies to give Valentine’s Day any thought. I needed all my energy and focus for my papers, exams, and readings.
Presently, my relationship status hasn’t changed: I’m still a lifelong single who has never had a boyfriend, and I’ve never had a valentine. Despite my ever enduring relationship status, I don’t hate Valentine’s Day like I did in my twenties, and I’m not indifferent to it like I was in my thirties. Now I have a deep appreciation for the holiday–despite the commercialization of it–because, in the words of Stevie Wonder’s classic song, “Love’s in need of love today,” and I’ve come to embrace a more expansive understanding of love, which includes the love I share with my friends.
When it comes to Valentine’s Day, we don’t often include our friends as the object of our Valentine’s affection. Yes, there are “Galentine” events. I understand that and have attended them in the past, but let’s be real–from my experience—those events involved a bunch of my homegirls coming together with sweets and drinks to commiserate about not having a man. So, in essence, the event revolved around men and the absence of a romantic relationship, not the substance of the beautiful friendships among the women in the room. These days, I’m more interested in the latter.
Recently, Jane Fonda did an interview alongside her co-stars, Lilly Tomlin, Sally Fields, and Rita Moreno. In the interview, Fonda displayed great wisdom as she talked about what it takes to make a friend later in life: intentionality and pursuing the person you want to be friends with. “You have to pursue people you want to be friends with,” says Fonda, “and you have to say, ‘I’m intentionally wanting to be your friend.’” We don’t think about this dynamic when it comes to our platonic friendships. We typically relegate the language of “pursuit” and “intentionality” to dating relationships exclusively, but if we don’t expand our understanding of what it takes to create new friendships and maintain the ones we have, we will miss out on one of God’s greatest gifts to us all.
This is how my dear friend Christina, whom I call “My Therapist BFF”, and I became friends. She literally pursued me and was intentional about building a friendship with me. She would call me out of the blue and we’d just talk about all the things. (Y’all know all the things.) What’s understood doesn’t need to be explained, and before you know it, I’d call her. Then we’d talk every day about anything and everything—our Aldi’s deals, significant life events, ministry lows and highs, and always about our mutual love for Jesus.
How often have you heard—or maybe you have said, “Oh, we are just friends,” or you’ve flippantly given the label of friend to any and everybody in your life who is not a romantic partner/interest or family member? Far too often, marriage is elevated and viewed as ultimate at the expense of friendship, when in reality it is friendship that is ultimate—not marriage. Here’s what I mean: Jesus said, “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30). In heaven, marriage will no longer be a reality for us. There will be a divine exchange from the titles of husband and wife to what they were prior to (and hopefully during) their marriage: friends. It’s not a title that should be taken lightly. We would do well to put some respect on the friendship title and not dole it out as carelessly as we do.
Jesus did not play about friendship. In fact, His love for us is so great that He said, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). The beautiful foundation of friendship that Jesus has displayed here exudes humility, love, vulnerability, intimacy, and trust.
Truly, it is a wonder to my soul that the God of the universe calls me friend and has shown us all what it takes to be a friend until the end of time and beyond. So, as we celebrate Valentine’s Day, please don’t forget about your friendships. And if you lack good friends in your life, endeavor to pursue a friendship with someone you admire.
How will you cultivate the friendships in your life and/or pursue new friendships?Leave a Comment