Friendship in millennial circles is a somewhat bizarre concept. Often it begins with a click and a flash on a screen, other times on a night you cannot remember.
Then sometimes, but only sometimes, it begins with a ‘hey’ and a handshake. There is a genuine magic that hangs around those friendships that are started with a shy smile and a conversation that is awkwardly bumbled through.
If I, a technologically-dependant millennial, think about my heart-friends, the ones who truly know and understand me, it is with this vulnerable beginning that our friendship started. At times months later, came the realisation that our friendship has no virtual existence or photographs for tangible memories.
Still these friends occupy a decent portion of my heart. These friends I define as good-friends and God-friends; the ones that I can be my most human self around, but who will always point me back to the feet of Jesus.
One of my most precious friendships originated at a sorority retreat in my year abroad in America. We were sitting in a small circle sharing testimonies, and boy did it get ugly! There were hours of tears and the washing of heart-wounds involved.
Another one of my besties came into my life through a conversation on a dark street corner discussing how to know when to end a relationship and when to keep fighting for it. Both friendships started with ‘keeping it real’, not the glossed versions of ourselves we portray online or often even during church services.
Incoming: Phone call
The moment many young people dread; answering or making a phone call. Talking to people on the phone is an art that has been lost in my generation: appointment bookings are made online, hang-outs are arranged via text, and the humble phone call is rejected time and time again.
I have come to wonder if calls are frantically declined because they cannot be crafted and edited. Do we prefer other forms of communication because there is less room for error? Do we prefer being perfect over being human? I am beginning to fear that we have lost our ability to make a public mistake.
Phone calls, like that initial gut-wrenchingly awkward conversation, add a depth to a friendship because they force both parties to be genuine. You cannot successfully talk to a friend on the phone while being immersed in something else, like you can with a text.
You have to sit through silences in real-time instead of simply not replying to a message. While sometimes this results in flopping down face-first onto your bed in cringy discomfort, often it fills our tank more than four hours of texting. Why? Because we come as we are.
Incoming: prayer request
In the same way that best friendships are formed face-to-face, with minimal distractions and maximal authenticity, so does our relationship with God grow. In the way that we avoid time-consuming phone calls, and the awkwardness of misunderstandings, many of us do not take the time to really develop a dialogue with God.
Our prayer life becomes like a text message. We are not afraid to double-text God, spam Him with concerns, frustrations and desires. Just like many double-text conversations, we do not wait for a reply. The waiting feels uncomfortable and makes God feel far away. So, we rather just leave a text than potentially face a voicemail machine.
When talking to the Israelites in exile, God says:
“This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfil my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” (Jeremiah chapter 26, verse 14)
With. All. Your. Heart.
God is calling us to seek Him earnestly and to wait for Him to answer us. He promises to answer our call, even come rescue us from trials in the dead of night. All we need to do is call.
In the same way that true friendships begin with humbling ourselves and opening our hearts to letting others into our mess, so our relationship with God grows. It starts in the messiness of life (or exile in the case of the Israelites) and deciding if we want to use God as a means to vent or a true, deep relationship. Instead of sending God a friend request or double-text, why not pick up the phone or extend a hand to stumble through an introduction?
Petro is a recent physical education graduate from the University of Otago. Originating from South Africa and growing up in New Zealand has given Petro a unique appreciation for all people, and a love for all things sport and travel. Writing is Petro’s way of making sense of the world around her and expressing the words God places on her heart.
Petro Swart is a currently completing her masters degree in Sport Leadership at the University of Miami (Oxford, Ohio). Originating from South Africa and growing up in New Zealand has given Petro a love for all things sport and travel. Writing is Petro’s way of making sense of the world around her and expressing the words God places on her heart.