Encouragement: the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope

Courage: the ability to do something that frightens one

Last week I spent a few hours sitting aside my oldest and dearest friend as we watched her daughter perform in The Nutcracker ballet. I am not one that ordinarily enjoys a classical ballet, but I was there to celebrate and support my friend and her daughter. Much to my surprise, it was an evening that was both magical and beautiful to me in more ways than I could ever explain.

My friend and I have been in the trenches of a myriad of life circumstances over the past fifteen years. The one constant has been our lifelong friendship.  To be with her that evening sparked memories of an authentic friendship that spans over four decades.

We met in Sunday school when we were three years old.  We reconnected again in high school, but to this day I cannot remember how our teenage friendship began.  She was an extroverted cheerleader and I was an introverted runner. We never had a class together, but we somehow found ourselves connected amidst big hair, peg rolled jeans, boy drama and a love for 90210 (the original)!

Despite having little in common, we shared a passion for the injustices of the world and over time invested in each other’s lives and passionate hearts.  Our friendship includes many hours and days filled with vulnerability and intimacy that has connected us forever.   She has always been one of my greatest encouragers and her courageous spirit has pushed me way outside my comfort zone more times than I can count.

Vulnerability and intimacy in the lives of others is an investment in humanity that helps us grow.  But it does take courage to move friendship to that level.  It can be easy to encourage one another, but if encouragement had a best friend, her name would be courage.

      Have you courageously placed an investment of vulnerability with others?

One of my favorite biblical friendships is the one between Jonathon and David.  Jonathon loved David so much that he went against his father in order to save David from death. Jonathon was David’s greatest encourager and we can see with this friendship, it takes great courage to love that deeply.  We see this in a beautiful part of scripture surrounding, 1 Samuel 20.

In verse 42, “Jonathon said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord, saying, “The Lord is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.”  Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town.”

It doesn’t say it in this verse, but my heart tells me that there were tears shed that day.

My Jonathon’s name is Jeri.  She left for college two days before me and I cried until it was my turn to go.  At any point in my life when I thought something was impossible, she was there to tell me different.

I hope you all have a friend like Jonathon. A friend that supports you and gives you confidence to do the impossible. A friend that, because of their own courageous heart, has taught you to encourage others and live boldly.  They are rare and as we see in this verse, an amazing gift from the Lord our God.

          How can you be more like Jonathon and be courageous this week in loving others?