Josh and I

Platonic Valentines are the best kind

“Are you okay?”

Class has ended for the day, and I’m walking past the library toward my house when I see one of my best friends travelling in the opposite direction. I pause to greet him, white snow shining in the peripheral and wet asphalt beneath my boots.  In an instant he reads my eyes and then asks me this question. Though the event he is attending begins in five minutes, he takes a moment to refer to a previous conversation and ask what’s up, what’s wrong.

Sometimes you need someone to “get” you, to understand you without your having to explain anything. That person abides on the same metaphorical page as you, and that person knows how to read your eyes or your body language. He or she has walked through enough life with you to do that. You can trust that friend with anything, and in times of heartbreak or fatigue, you can choose to speak, cry or simply sit with him or her. You spend hours laughing together as well. Do you have a friend like this?

I have a few of those friends, my core. I couldn’t do life well without them. These friends stick closer than a brother or a sister, and they “get” me in a way that no Prince Charming could at the moment.

God brought us together fairly randomly: I met Samuel through a class, Ili and Layla in the dorm and Josh in the cafeteria. Our social circles overlapped, and enough of our interest aligned so that we grew close and could understand each other at a deep level.

“We do life together.”

We support each other and need each other in order to stay encouraged and motivated.

I’m eternally thankful to God for my core group at Wheaton, my best friends here. From the outside we may look like an unlikely bunch, being from all different races and cultures, but our hearts are united through Christ Jesus and our love for his beautifully diverse kingdom.

We comfort each other in times of pain or sorrow. I rejoice that we can call each other at all hours or crash at one another’s homes without warning. We are honest with each other and do not have to pretend to be perfect or put together. (Though Ili still doesn’t “wanna be like that [insert a face I once made].” 😉 ) We dine on kimchi soup, Thai salad and chocolate peanut butter shakes; we laugh at the ugly faces we make to underline our points in conversation; we discuss everything from relationships to race. We do life together.

Perhaps most importantly, we pray together and encourage each other in God’s Word. My best friends exemplify both the peace and passion of Jesus. Because they are filled with God’s Spirit, they are patient as Jesus is, and they persevere as Jesus does.

“Are you okay?”

Not everybody means this question, but I’m grateful that my best friends do. They take the time to care, and I am honored to do the same for them. We live in a sinful, broken, corrupt world, but we have each other, and we have hope in Christ Jesus.

We are not alone. And with the family bonds we have through Christ, we will be more than okay.

Beauty Week: Giving up Guys

My floor held Beauty Week this past week. Every girl who participated gave up something dear to herself with the intent that she would see her true beauty because of God’s image in her. Many girls fasted makeup, a few gave up looking in mirrors, some gave up sweets, one temporarily quit baggy sweatshirts, and another resisted asking about whether her clothing looked perfect every day. One of the things I fasted was initiating conversation with guys.

I decided that if a guy talked to me, I could converse with him, but I could not start the conversation. There is something special about having male friends, something I cannot place, but I know that my desire for attention from them is often sinful. I realized that I was not secure in God’s love for me and that I looked for that attention and future affection in guys instead of in Him. Going into beauty week, I was convicted to give up seeking this attention from guys, even though I knew it would be difficult.

In fact, day one was awful. It had only been a day, but I could barely stand it! This proved further how much I idolize guys. God is gracious, however, and he allowed me to converse with one of my best friends named Samuel since it was in the context of a discussion with another friend.

Throughout the week, I was able to have many regular chats with my guy friends after class, before chapel, and in passing because they said hello and asked how I was doing. In this respect, the week was normal. Nevertheless, I was unable to text or call Samuel to ask if he could hang out, and I could not visit him at work on Friday as I have taken to doing. I could not text or mail some of my other friends to say I was praying for them or to send them a Bible verse. I also could not ask them various questions about what was going on in their lives, and I was frustrated by this.

I evaluated my week on Wednesday night and realized how much I appreciate my guy friends. I am so grateful for Josh Fort, Daniel Yoon, and Samuel Kim, to name just a few. As I reflected on the first half of the week, I was warmed by remembering a past conversation with Daniel when I had visited him at work, a normal occurrence, and he had said he appreciated my visits to him.

In my Wednesday night reflections, I also realized more of my intentions when I seek attention from my guy friends. My dependence on them has been unhealthy. God calls me beautiful, He loves me, He knows what He is doing, and He is all I need. Why do I turn away from Him and to guys so often? That being said, I felt ready for the week to end. I thought I had learned my lessons and wished I didn’t have to continue the fast for the rest of the week.

After Wednesday night, I gave up much of my resolve. On Friday afternoon I purposefully broke my fast. I saw Samuel come out of class, and I waited for him and exchanged a few sentences with him for a minute before our paths split. While our brief chat calmed my ridiculous fears that our friendship would dissipate after a week of not talking, I broke my commitment to Beauty Week by deciding to approach him to talk. I tried to convince myself that it was a good thing; he looked haggard, and a good friend would certainly ask how he was. Yet I went out of my way to do so, and I know I was actually being selfish. My insecure and auditory self wanted to hear his voice to reaffirm what I know is a solid friendship. The guilt of breaking my signed commitment to Beauty Week overshadowed the comfort I received from speaking with my male friend.

Looking back on Beauty Week, I wish I had depended on Christ Jesus instead and had not broken my commitment. I am grateful that Jesus has forgiven me, however! I need not dwell in my guilt any longer but must continue to run to Jesus. He is the one Lover and friend that will never, ever fade away from His beloved people, and I will thank Him both now and into eternity.

To conclude these ponderings on Beauty Week, I shall simply add one more thought: I often felt as if I had to ignore males during Beauty Week. In this time period, I realized that interacting with males is fine, good, and normal. God made both males and females for a reason; we need each other. Having male friends is a blessing from Him, and I thank God that He has altered my perspective so that I can appreciate platonic male friendships more.

I encourage you, readers, to fast something you love for the sake of growing closer to God and for your health. I would not have chosen to fast on my own, but signing a commitment alongside many other girls and maintaining accountability with them throughout the fasting period greatly assisted the discipline. Thus, fast joyfully and in community so that you can personally grow more intimate with the God of the universe who gave up everything to be with you.