Happy Galentine's Day?
What is Galentine’s day? A holiday introduced by fictional character Leslie Knope in an episode of Parks and Recreation that debuted in 2010. According to Knope, Galentine’s Day—celebrated on February 13—is a time to celebrate the importance of female friendship. And this fictional holiday has caught enough traction to make it into Target!
Instead of the traditional Valentine’s Day items, currently the Target dollar section has a whole host of items celebrating friendship, including Galentine’s Day decor, friendship necklaces and “I love you BFF” pins.
What does this mean? One simple observation I would make: Friendship is becoming more important. The Atlantic made this same observation last year:
“Galentine’s Day soon became popular among real-life women, too. The festival, after all, filled a need. It found a market. Like Friendsgiving before it, which was similarly coddled in the crucible of the sitcom, Galentine’s Day acknowledged a broad truth about American life as it’s lived in the early 21st century: Friendships, increasingly, are playing an organizing role in society. Long conceived as side dishes to the main feast—marriage, kids, the nuclear family above all—friendships, more and more, are helping to define people’s sense of themselves in the world. During a time of emergent adulthood and geographic mobility, friendships are lending stability—and meaning—to people’s, and especially young people’s, lives. The deepest friendships are operating not to replace the family unit, certainly, but to complement it.”
How do we, as Christ-followers, respond to this cultural shift? The same way we do to any attempt to find meaning apart from Christ. We live and preach “Only Jesus can satisfy.”
IDENTIFY THE EMPTY WELLS
Any attempt to find stability, meaning, and satisfaction apart from Christ will fail. And friendship is no exception. It doesn’t matter how intrinsically good the thing itself is, to seek our meaning in something other than God is idolatry. To seek our meaning in God’s gifts actually distorts their purpose in our lives.
For example, worshiping marriage distorts its purpose and strips it of its beauty. This has been easy to see in our culture as divorce rates climb and sexual confusion grows. Worshiping children and family distorts its purpose as seen in the “mommy wars” and the extreme levels of stress and anxiety facing both parents and children. Marriage and family cannot satisfy the soul, no matter how many ways you try it.
Likewise, worshiping friendship will distort its purpose and strip it of its beauty. Friendship cannot satisfy the soul, no matter how many ways you try it. It is not living water. There is only one Fountain of Living Water, only one source of true satisfaction: knowing God through Jesus Christ His son.
DO FRIENDSHIP DIFFERENTLY
So what do we do in the face of the cultural shifting of tides?
First, pursue, develop and maintain really good friendships! Have deep and meaningful relationships with other Christians that go beyond the surface. Friendship is a great thing, just like marriage and family are great things. Friendship is a gift from God to be enjoyed. A grace from God to be received. The Church, of all places, should be full of really meaningful friendships.
But we must do friendship differently than the world.
Most Christians understand the need to interact with boyfriends, girlfriends, fiancés, spouses and children differently than the world. Marriage and family, rightly enjoyed and rightly received is beautifully God-glorifying!
But do we consider how we should interact with our friends differently? Friendship, rightly enjoyed and rightly received is beautifully God-glorifying!
But friendship pursued for soul-satisfying reasons can be just a detrimental as marriage pursued for soul-satisfying reasons. Why? Because in both cases you are avoiding Christ. No matter how messy or how neat the external side-effects of idolatry are, they are lethal because of Who they keep us from not what they lead us to.
RIGHTLY ENJOY FRIENDSHIP
So how do we rightly enjoy and rightly receive this gift of friendship?
As living water addicts, we must have friendships that push us to the Source instead of attempting to be the source themselves. We must have friendships that stay in their place as gift not giver, as grace not need. When we taste and see the profound goodness of the Lord, friendship is both exposed as empty apart from Him and elevated as invaluable as a servant of our joy in Him.
The world will seek to find soul-quenching joy in friendship. And in this endeavor it will fail. Because friends who only celebrate one another know so little of real joy. But only Christians know the joy of having a friend to celebrate God with. The joy of having a friend to seek God with. The joy of looking at one another in amazement that the God of all Creation would actually let us know Him!
Are people looking beyond the family unit for meaning and stability? Let us hope so! But let it not be friendship they look to. Let it be Jesus. And may we be ready to befriend those in the world hungry for friendship, taking them by the hand to the One who first befriended us.