Mark your calendars for a real, authentic, healing and provocative conversation on friendship between men and women. More details will be coming soon. April 26-27 2013 in Chicago! For two days we will be asking questions so many churches are afraid to ask and explore. We'll be hearing life-giving, redemptive stories. Sacred Friendship Gathering is committed to exploring the journey of friendships between men and women in the 21st century.
In case you missed these or haven't read some of them, off the top of my head these are my top ten links on cross-sex friendship. I didn't include any of my posts. These are from the good links out there compiled into one post.
"To be human, is to belong...Belonging is deep...This is the appropriate art of belonging in friendship: friends do not belong to each other, but rather with each other. This with reaches to the very depths of their twinned souls. True belonging is not ownership; it never grasps or holds on from fear or greed. We seem to have forgotten the true depth and spiritual nature of intimate belonging."
John O'Donohue, Anam Cara
This rich observation by O'Donohue is at the heart of all healthy, vibrant, robust friendship. It's true for male friendships, female friendships, and male-female friendships. We all long for this withness, I believe, because we were all created from Triune withness. This is the path to happiness, beauty, freedom, love, intimacy, commitment, connection, and friendship. We long for this connection that is free of ownership but yet with deep connection of belonging in friendship.
My friend, author, apologist Jonalyn Fincher drew a rather large crow at the evangelical Biola University last week. Her subject? Friendship between men and women. From all accounts, there was a great hunger to explore an issue that was unthinkable for evangelicals just a few years ago. It's such a joy to be joined on the front lines of this conversation with someone who is so gifted. It's been a great pleasure to see the front lines growing.
A Biola student commented on Jonalyn's FB wall the day after: "Everywhere I go on campus, people are having conversations about your workshop topic yesterday. They agree/disagree, but they are having edifying dialogue about it. Thank you for making waves."
Also on the day after, I had the deep honor and blessing of meeting Jonalyn face to face for the first time. Such a joy for me to hear her report of her talk the previous night.
What is so striking and refreshing about Jonalyn's approach to this is that she is open to the fullness of goodness and beauty in cross-sex friendship. Friendship between men and women is something which can be engaged with one's whole heart in learning to receive and give. This wholeheartedness is not about throwing caution to the wind or just letting it all hang out. It is about following Jesus and learning to love one another with their whole hearts and bodies as Jesus loved.
My beloved wife, companion, lover, partner, and best friend of 31 years
Here we are celebrating 31 years!!!
Can you believe it? I wish I could tell the world what an amazing wife, partner, companion, and friend you are. Whatever words I could put together, they wouldn't be able to convey the great gift you have been to me for these 31 years. I loved your passionate love for Jesus 31 years ago. I've seen that love up close now for three decades and there are no words for how you have again and again inpsired me to love Jesus more and trust him.
Of course, in our journey to follow Christ, we came upon two roads which diverged and we took the one less traveled and that has made all the difference in the world. I've known your strength. You're a woman with great courage and strength. I admired you when you gave up a promising professional career in order to be a stay at home mother. I saw you pour your heart and soul into Jonathan for all of his childhood. You loved him with a fierce love and you still love him with a fierce love.
Years later, when it became evident the Lord was calling me to write a provocative book on cross-gender friendship you became my strongest advocate and supporter. I was able to deepen my friendships with women because you stood with me and behind me with a cherished trust.
As the Lord has led me to explore intimate cross-gender friendship with very few role models or scripts you have been my partner cheering me on where others were afraid to go. It was your enthusiastic trust in me which inspired me to explore the depths of deep love and trust in cross-gender friendship. When I began exploring the possibility of Sacred Friendship Gathering, it was your support and trust which inspired me. When we started about talking about the 12 day road trip with Jennifer O. this past summer, it was because of your trust and support which allowed me to enjoy Jennifer and our trip with the fullness of sacred blessing.
All this has strengthened our trust and love for each other. Of course, some of my critics tell us this is not supposed to work this way. It's supposed to undermine marriage. My ongoing shared intimacy in my friendships with Jennifer O., Susanne Osborne and others has created an upward spiral of trust, partnership, companionship, and love between us. We both see the deep beauty, truth, and glory of sharing a fierce and passionate love for our closest friends knowing such love can strengthen and stir our love for each other.
I cannot even begin to tell you what it means to share my deep delight in Jennifer and Susanne with your full acceptance, unwavering trust, and sweet support. You have been so tender with me and for them when I have shared their struggles with you. You have also expressed great joy when I have shared their joy. It's been so beautiful to see your passionate love for my closest friends. You know you are my best friend. Yet you know the glory of a spouse married to their best friend but enjoying best friends beyond marriage.
In my wildest imagination, I could not have conceived of this.
No turning back! Looking forward to the next year with you!
You are the wind beneath my wings!
I so celebrate you and our marriage. I glory in Christ because of you and your love.
"Soul friends can be safe mirrors who help you see the truth about yourself and love you enough to walk with you to a place of healing and life. They are for you. For your life. For your freedom. For your growth and maturity. They don't want to miss one thing God has for you...These kinds of conversations have the effect on our souls of helping us sit down at the table of transformation. They help us stay in the chair just a bit longer, and they help us come to God more open and yielded and willing." Mindy Caliguire, Spiritual Friendship
So looking forward to next Saturday night (20th) when I will be hanging out with The Refuge in Arvada Colorado and talking about how friendship (yes, cross-gender friendship) heals. Looking forward to connecting with Kathy Escobar and The Refuge community. It should be a great conversation!
Also, if you are in the neighborhood on Friday night, The Refuge will be hosting their first theology camp: Patriarchy.