My junior year in high school had already begun; I was seventeen and enrolled in a Christian co-ed boarding school one hundred and forty miles from home. I had attended the same school my sophomore year and my parents wanted me to return for an additional year. A few weeks into the new semester I became very unhappy. I was disillusioned with the strict religious rules that left me no freedom to enjoy the fun of being a teenager. I longed to return home and attend the local Christian high school. After making known my desire to my parents, they agreed. I was overjoyed to join my childhood classmates again, and breathe the freshness of freedom from suffocating religious doctrine that was not taken from the Bible.
During my first week back home, enrolled in the local high school, I met Ellie. We were in the same classes, and since we lived in a small town, we walked to and from school together each day. Her family and mine lived only about two blocks apart. As we walked and talked, we soon found we were much alike in thoughts, actions, hopes, and in our Christian values. We both played the piano and liked to sing. We found a third girl to make a singing trio, and we sang together at many venues.
Ellie and I laughed a lot as we tried to speak the few phrases of German that we had learned from our families. I think we had our own version of that language, as it was more made-up than real.
The day after our high school graduation (in 1956), I left our small town for the big city of Seattle, but Ellie stayed behind. Within a few years we had both married men who were pilots. Soon we each had small children to care for. Years passed where we were not in close contact, as our husband’s jobs took us to different states, but in our hearts, we were never far from one another. Years later, when we reconnected, we found that time and distance had not quenched our sweet friendship, and we took it up again right where we had left off.
Our relationship, of more than sixty years, has been remarkable to me and to our families. Our friendship continues to be based on mutual trust, respect, and our love for the Lord and for each other. We still share our laughter and often pray together.
As I ponder our friendship, some scriptures come to mind: Proverbs 17:17 and Proverbs 18:24. “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (KJV) This is the kind of friendship that has blessed Ellie and me. There is another friendship that is even deeper and greater than ours. It is described in John 15:12-14 (KJV). Jesus gave this advice to his disciples before he returned to his Father: “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”
My friendship with, Ellie, has made a beautiful impact on my life, but there is another who also calls me ‘a friend.’ In John 15:15-16 (TLV), Jesus said: “Now I have called you friends, because everything I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you.” The first line of lyrics in the old hymn, penned by Joseph Scriven in 1868, describes this relationship:
“What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!”