Last Sunday night I met David Swanson over at Medici on 57th. We took a table in the bakery side. The smell of tomorrow’s croissants wafted over our heads, and our necks and eyes jerked toward the huge oven behind the wall of that day’s bread-now-sold.
I sipped a cup of something called pearlicious, an intriguing herbal tea, and he had an almond herbal tea. We caught up after several weeks of him being too busy to talk to me. We bounced around the usual topics.
Since we both serve at New Community, we inevitably discussed church. We talked about some things we had heard regarding a prominent pastor who’s been in the news lately, finding time to reflect and grieve and wonder. We talked about writing and blogging. We talked about our children and being fathers and how when we went to President Obama’s inauguration, it was the last time the four of us (he, me, and our wives) were in the car together before bright sons entered our worlds.
I talked about the boy and how he’s adjusting to me, how I’m adjusting to him. At one point in the conversation David asked me, “Would I be correct to say that you’re feeling better about fatherhood these days?”
My answer was quick. “Yes.”
The answer was quick, but David Swanson knows that these months have been long for me. He’s been the recipient of enough conversations about my parenting and my questions and my son and all my concerns to fill every bread bin at Medici. He knew that my quick yes had not come quickly.
David was exhibiting a quality I get spoiled with in several friendships, and that is faithfulness. He, like other friends–some of whom I’ve mentioned on the blog–ask me tough questions and expect honest answers.
Being faithful in a friendship is a prerequisite to being faithful in every aspect of life. When you’re a friend to someone you practice truth-telling. You make promises to that friend that you’ll tell the truth, that you’ll present your best opinions carefully, even if it hurts them to hear it. You make a promise to that person that you’ll work in that relationship for their best. Best might not be easy. Best might mean you stop speaking for a time. Best might be too heavy to rest upon the relationship you’ve built, breaking what you have. But that’s the risk of promising to be someone’s friend. You promise that you’ll be there, present, with the best truth you can create for him or her no matter what.
If I were to say to David that night, “No, I still think I’m unqualified for this. I still have the same worries and questions and strange feelings,” David’s faithfulness would stretch into another episode of telling me that I was fine, that I was ready, that I was a good father, that I’d get better at the new weird adjustment which is fatherhood. And that would be him being faithful.
What do you think faithfulness means in a friendship? Share if you’d like.