by Alice Fox
Over the course of the last year, I’ve really got into Voicenote messages, where you can send a voice message via WhatsApp. I was introduced to this by one of my best friends, a school friend who I’ve known for over twenty years.
Over the course of nearly daily messages for over a year, we’ve shared big things (the birth of her first baby in the early stages of the pandemic, my unexpected house move), and small things (what to have for yet another lockdown lunch); we’ve shared the boring bits of our daily lives, to a background of folding up washing, or cooking a meal. We’ve recounted days of online teaching (me), or of baby groups via Zoom (her). Via the medium of our Voicenotes, I went on her holiday to Cornwall in the summer, and she came with me to Scotland. We’ve had the privilege of praying for each other on our messages, and being prayed for; we’ve also had the encouragement of seeing prayers answered, sometimes almost immediately, reported in the following day’s message, and sometimes over a longer period of time.
Already very good friends at the start of the pandemic, this ritual has accelerated the deepening of our friendship. We have shared with each other our anxieties and frustrations, as well as our joys, and revealed the ups and downs of our emotions through laughter and tears. We have invited each other into our lives in a way previously unprecedented, and we know intimately the rituals of the other’s days. I find myself making a mental note during the day of things to tell her, both momentous and mundane, and look forward to her enjoyment of what I share with her, just as I enjoy what she shares with me.
Reflecting on these messages, I realise how much I treasure friendship, and what an important part of our humanity it is. My friendship not only with this friend, but with others too, is an enormous blessing, and I was struck by how there is always more to learn about each other, as our contexts and perspectives change. My friendship with this particular friend is rooted in shared experiences as teenagers, but it has grown as our lives have expanded, and the more we reveal of ourselves and our inner lives, the deeper our friendship becomes, and I pray that this continues over the course of our lifetimes.
It also struck me that these messages have been a wonderful illustration of what happens in the Christian’s relationship with Jesus. Of course, we relate to Jesus as our Saviour and Lord, but He also calls us His friends, and the central truth of any Christian’s life is that we are called to follow Jesus, to knit our lives with His, to believe Him, trust Him, love Him and obey Him. Yes, He knows us deeply and intimately, but we can hold Him at arm’s length. We can hide how we feel, or neglect (or perhaps forget!) to share the rituals of our lives. Yes, we’re good at praying the big stuff- when we’re overflowing with joy or despair- but often leave out the mundane rituals of our lives, and the less extreme versions of our emotional fluctuations. Yet the more we reveal to him through prayer of our everyday goings on and emotions, the more we have eyes opened to see the blessings and grace He lavishes on us in the mundane rituals of our daily lives. We open ourselves to being known by Him, and to knowing Him better as we listen and watch for His response. Over the course of a lifetime, what wonderful fruit that desire to know Jesus better day by day, in both the big and small, would bear.