Lessons from Teenagers on Friendship

Friendship

Most of you know that earlier this month, my older daughter spent four days in the hospital with meningitis. I blogged about the change in perspective it brought here.

While we were in the hospital, though, I learned something else. I knew my daughter had some great friends. I knew that they enjoyed all the fun, silly things that teenagers do. What I didn’t know was that these kids had mastered the art of friendship in the tough times.

Being a teenager is hard. Navigating through relationships of all kinds is difficult at any age but especially in the teen years where kids are just learning how to be a friend.

But while my daughter was in the hospital, we discovered that these teenagers — these 13-, 14-, and 15-year-old kids — had mastered friendship in ways that a lot of adults I know have not.

We weren’t out of the ER before some of my daughter’s closest friends had shown up with snacks and flowers. Those same friends were in her hospital room every single day we were there — watching movies, making up silly games and just hanging out. They even threw my daughter a birthday party on the day hers was supposed to be, complete with cake, balloons and party hats. It’s summer. There are an awful lot of things that teenagers can be doing, but those kids spent hours in a hospital room entertaining my daughter.

On top of the visitors, my daughter received cards, posters, texts, Snapchats, prayers and phone calls. Her friends that couldn’t come to the hospital because my daughter’s visitors were restricted wrapped her up in love every way they knew how without physically seeing her.

Because these teens have learned something important. They have learned that love shows up. Friendship means more than just hanging out and having a good time. It means jumping in with both feet when something goes wrong. It means wrapping your friend up in love when they need it. It means showing up and offering a hug and a shoulder to cry on.

Those teenage kids were Jesus with skin on to my daughter. They loved her through those days in ways that I could not. And I am so very grateful that God placed those kids in my daughter’s life. I’m in awe of the depth of friendship that these teenagers have created. A bunch of 13-, 14- and 15-year-old kids showed they truly understand the words of John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

For nearly a week, I watched these kids lay down their lives for my daughter, and I learned a lot about what God’s picture of friendship looks like. And I am inspired to make my friendships look the same.