My favorite friends are the ones with who you can laugh together so hard that you cry and pee your pants or pass gas, which makes you laugh all the harder. Those friends make ordinary days so much fun. They are up for an adventure like building human pyramids on the beach when life says you may be past time for that, and they will hang out to watch a movie where half of you fall asleep during the best part. These friends pace nervously with you when the Braves are ahead in game 6 of the National League pennant because you all have seen this go badly before. They scream their heads off and jump up and down with you when those same Braves clinch the series and head to the ‘ship – the World Series. These are the same people that you can call at a moment’s notice because your chest hurts and you need a ride to the doc for an expensive check-up, and they also hold you together when something in your life threatens to tear your heart or your family apart. The friends like this are your tribe.
Whatever age we are, we need people. Watch small children. If they are playing separately, they will eventually converge and interact. There is a reason that solitary confinement is a punishment. According to Psychology Today, researchers have found that loneliness is as lethal as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. Imagine someone who is lonely and smokes 15 cigarettes per day! Lonely people suffer more disabled from pain, their immunity is decreased and body inflammation is increased which causes other chronic health conditions. Stress takes a bigger toll on someone with no social or emotional support. Everyday obstacles seem more daunting with no one to share these with. And despite the sometimes thousands of digital social connections we have, they are not a cure for loneliness. We need a tribe.
With your people, you can be you without judgment; and you also can expect them to be truthful with you when they see that your behavior, attitude, or words are off the mark. But even in these cases, your tribe assumes the best of you, because they know your heart and your character. They don’t berate a misstep, they dig deep with love to see what is going on behind the curtain in order to offer help and support.
Proverbs 17:17 says of God that “we have a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” Our Lord says around 25 times in the Bible, His Word, that He will never leave us or abandon us. (Deut 31:6,8 and Matt 28:20 to name a few.) That makes One in our corner at ALL TIMES. My closest favorite humans are those with whom I share a relationship with Jesus Christ who tells us through His Word to “not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another, and all the more as we see The Day (of His return) approaching“! (Hebrews 10:25) He is saying “Get with your tribe!” These people help us do life so that it is more full, which also adds to the abundant life that He desires for us!
So get with your tribe – love them, hug them, pray with them and for them, do crazy things with them, and then you can hold each other up and together through life’s thicks and thins, through the power of the Spirit that lives within those who believe.