I opened my stocking yesterday morning to find two huge surprises (in addition to a nice pile of dark chocolate filling the toe!). The first thing I pulled out was a small, finely woven sack. Inside was a braided bracelet with a small tag in the center. On the tag were coordinates.
“Actually, you need the other bag,” my husband smiled, and I reached back into the stocking. Sure enough, there was another bag with another bracelet. The first bracelet held coordinates for my home. The second? Coordinates for the Solomon Island village home of our dear friends the Choates. One bracelet was for me; the other was for my friend Joanna – one more connection across the many miles that separate us.
The second surprise was a beautiful fountain pen with extra cartridges. Not too long ago, I had told Doug that I wanted to become more regular about writing letters – real, snail mail letters, something I used to thoroughly enjoy doing as a child, before the days of e-mail and social media. So, when a friend asked what I wanted for Christmas, my sweet husband suggested she get me stationary. Then, he found this elegant pen to go with my new stationary. His desire was to intentionally support my goal of letter writing.
Both gifts, though, supported something much deeper – they both supported my need for friendship.
Doug will always be my dearest, closest, and most desired friend. That is how marriage should be, and I love it. But, we both know that we need other friends as well. Because we are both introverts – and because we move a good deal – it is not always easy for us to find and build deep, local friendships. But, God is not restricted by distance or time. Sometimes He builds friendships across the miles as easily as He does across the street.
My husband knows which friends I need when, and he actively helps me stay connected to them. He not only supports my friendships, he equips them. He nourishes them. He encourages and helps build them.
And I pray regularly over his friendships. I pray that he will be able to develop the deep relationships he needs and that I will see ways to nourish those friendships as he nourishes mine.
Friendship with one another is such a vital part of marriage. If we allow outside relationships to supersede the one that exists within the confines of our home and marriage, our marriage will suffer. But, it will also suffer if we close out all other relationships or if we allow ourselves to feel as if we are in competition with one another’s friends.
There is no competition. All are needed in very specific ways to meet very specific needs.
I am blessed beyond words to have a husband who is my dearest friend while simultaneously supporting and equipping my vital external friendships. That, to me, is the epitome of friendship in marriage.