Morning Musing: Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

“Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

When God was creating the world, everything was good. Again and again this refrain echoes across the unfolding drama of creation. Each thing God makes He pronounces good. Then He gets to us and says it is very good. It’s really a beautiful picture. That’s chapter 1. In chapter 2 we get a more intimate look at the story of creation focused in on the creation of people. There, once God has created all of the world and just the man something suddenly changes. God says, “It is not good.” And what is the thing that isn’t good? It is not good for the man to be alone. We were not made to do life on our own. And while marriage is one way to make sure we don’t have to try it, this morning I want to talk about another, equally valid and more broadly available option (since not everyone is called to marriage): friendship. And I want to do this through the lens of a recently concluded Netflix series. Here’s why you need to watch Alexa and Katie.

My kids watch all kinds of different shows. We keep a pretty tight rein on the content they consume, but within those parameters, there is no shortage of available options. And when they start something, they tend to stick with it until they’ve watched through the whole series. Sometimes this is unbearable because the show is awful. Not inappropriate awful, just awful, awful. I’m looking at you Netflix Richie Rich. Worst. Show. Ever.

Occasionally, though, they’ll start on one that actually sucks us into the storyline too. After twenty or thirty episodes it’s hard not to get sucked into any show, but some do that from desire, not merely repetition. Well, they recently discovered a show on Netflix that premiered a few years ago called Alexa and Katie. They are best friends and Alexa begins the show with a cancer diagnosis. The rest of the series is the two best friends and their families walking through Alexa’s cancer journey together. The show is structured like any sitcom aimed at kids from 8-18. It has plenty of slap stick and insanely unlike plot elements. The supporting cast tends to be more caricatures than actual characters. But set firmly in the middle of all of this is the friendship of Alexa and Katie. That’s what drew us in.

As the girls face one misadventure after another as they walk through high school together, their friendship remains the pulse that keeps them moving. Through thick and thin, they never leave each other. They have disagreements and fights, but they are tethered to one another at a heart level and although they sometimes run out to the end of their cords, eventually they are snapped back to that core of friendship.

I’ve got to tell you: I can’t remember a show or movie that puts friendship on display as well and as positively as this one does. These two girls love each other. They are absolutely committed to one another. They want nothing but the best for one another. They are willing to speak hard truths, walk through fire, have each other’s backs no matter what, and generally be there at a moment’s notice.

Friendship isn’t something our culture does very well anymore. There are several reasons for this. For starters, strong and deep friendships are not built over social media. Period. Building friendship takes time together in the same place, sharing life over and over again in the good times and the hard ones. The more drawn into digital relationships we become, the weaker the fabric of our very culture grows. Social media has left us relationally thin. Another key reason is the hypersexualized nature of our culture. When two people of the same gender love each other, we have reached a point that we just assume they are homosexual. We don’t have a place for non-sexual love between two people. And where that starts to develop, the culture begins to apply pressure to sexualize it. That’s unhealthy in all sorts of ways, but the impact on genuine friendships has been devastating.

The result of all of this is that we drift through life surrounded by people and terribly alone. Sociologists have started talking about a loneliness epidemic and the raft of social maladies that is causing in the lives of people affected by it. It’s really not a pretty picture.

This was not how God designed us to be. It is not good for people to be alone. Two are better than one. We need friends. You need a friend. You need someone with whom you can share your life; someone who has access to your inner world in a way no one else does. You need someone you can call in the middle of the night to share hard news and who will sit on the phone with you as long as it takes and whose phone call you’ll take just the same. You need someone who loves you enough to speak hard truths when you need to hear them, but who will bear with your failings as often as you have them without changing their opinion of you even once. You need someone who will weather betrayal and by whose side you will stand no matter how difficult it gets. You need a Katie.

This won’t happen overnight. It takes time to develop a friendship. It’s scary too. Opening yourself up that fully to another person means they can see all the things you try to hide from the world. It means opening yourself up to rejection. That’s terrifying. And it’s not something you should do all at once again. Friendship starts with baby steps at first. Trust builds over time. The relationship deepens gradually. But it has to have a starting point. You have to take the first step. In more ways than one, your life depends on it.

Don’t walk alone. You’ll never make it if you try. Go with a friend. And if you need some guidance along the way, go and watch Alexa and Katie. Stick with it all the way to the last line. You’ll be glad you did, and you’ll be glad when you start your own journey.

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