I have two best friends. One of them I met on the first day of advanced English class in seventh grade. We quickly became inseparable and what could have began and ended as “just” a childhood friendship has instead led to more than three decades of love and laughter, grief and loss, stories and inside jokes, and a wealth of understanding that can be communicated with just a look or a word. She is my soul sister and my spiritual mentor. She is the one who knows everything about me, my craziness, my quirks, my story, my family. She loves me with a great richness and depth as one who knows both my beauty and my dark. There is a unique significance and solidarity in knowing someone for decades, truly a rare and treasured gift.
My other best friend is not my husband, because truth be told my husband is more than my friend. A friend, by definition, is “one attached to another by affection or esteem.” My husband and I are not bound by affection or esteem although those are the feelings that initially lit the fire of our love. There is a mystical quality of attachment to our marriage, it is the place where two become one flesh. To say he’s my friend does not honor the covenant, the uniqueness, the oneness, the miraculousness that we share. We are one in the same flesh. It would be better said that he is the right half of my body. The part of me that always looks for the good and sees the best in people and situations, that sees the world as half full instead of half empty, that is slow and steady, strong and patient. That is my husband’s influence, his heart, his beauty that doesn’t just influence me, but has infiltrated and become an inherent part of me… the beauty and the unexplainable mystery of the two becoming one flesh.
My other best friend came into my life when my whole world was falling apart. He was and is just what I needed: a fighter and a hand holder, kind and tender hearted, protective and proactive. If I would have chosen, I would not have chosen him. I had learned and lived by the credo that the friends I share the deep, dark places of my heart and soul, who I share the intimate details of my story with, should be someone of the same gender.
My closely held judgements and beliefs were challenged when I found myself lying face down on the ground and completely dependent upon God to bring me what I needed.
I was confident that God would send a woman, a sister, to tend to me in this wounded and wordless place but instead He to sent me a brother, a Samaritan, walking down the road where others had already passed by my wilted and wounded body. As I have reflected back on that moment, I wonder if God knew what I didn’t, that I needed a brother to tell me how a young girl should have been treated, to hold my hand when I wanted to crawl to the back of my closet in fear, to give me safety to dream again. I wonder if because my greatest wounding came at the hands of men, that in God’s kindness and love, in His heart for redemption, that a part of my greatest healing would also be at the hands of men.
In the years since my dear brother came into my life, I have often pondered the verse “love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.” I have wondered what I was missing, what we as a community are missing, by putting human laws and rules and boundaries around relationships to keep ourselves safe, to keep sin at bay. I wonder if in my vain attempt to remain holy and unblemished on the inside, I was really just holy and unblemished on the outside like a whitewashed sepulcher. And the reality was that in my vain attempt to keep myself clean I was missing out on a beautiful piece of His healing and holiness, love and joy, connection and beauty, I was missing out on allowing God to do what He does…the mysterious, the miraculous, the unexpected…
Stephanie Boehm lives near the mountains of Colorado with her husband and six children. In her free time she loves to explore the expanses that surround her with her family, her friends and her God.