Growing up in church has its cons—everyone knows you, and everyone is watching your every action and ready to report you to your parents who serve as deacons, elders, or Sunday school teachers. So if there were just one good thing about growing up in church, it would be the gift of lifelong friendships.
There could not be any group of friends more different than the five of us. One is sporty, another looks sporty but hates exercise, one loves craft, another likes chemical engineering, and one is interested in fashion and even has a Masters degree in it.
We do have one thing in common, though: we are all born in the same year. And so, we were all in the same play group as toddlers, where, according to our mums, we fought over toys and even bit each other on some occasions. In primary school and secondary school, we had our fair share of boy craziness, cold wars, and pajama parties. Later, during our rebellious teenage years, we took turns to absent ourselves from youth group meetings.
Older folks in church often remark how wonderful it is that we have each other. But it didn’t always feel that way. In the earlier years, we didn’t have much of a choice, because we were put into the same group simply because we were peers. As the years passed, however, we grew closer to one another. Encouragement cards turned into phone calls and later into coffee sessions. Now, we can easily spend hours chatting over tea without realizing how much time has gone by.
Looking back, I am filled with gratitude that I have these friends to grow old together with. I am amazed by how the Lord has preserved and grown our friendship—from childhood quarrels to prayerful intercession sessions—and growing our size, from the five of us to include husbands and children.
Through these friends, I see 1 Corinthians 12 being lived out: the body is not made up of one part but of many and the eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you”, for we are all members of the same body. Three of us serve in different capacities in the worship ministry and youth ministry, while another designs clothing for people with disabilities; one of us seeks to raise not one or two, but three godly offspring. I can only stand in awe of God’s work as I look at where we are all at today.
I now realize that the true foundation of this friendship and the common bond we share is Christ, the Head. He engineered the endless “coincidences” by which our lives overlap, and it is His love for us which enables us to love one another, now and in the years to come.