By Cynthia Ruchti
I had an “aha” moment this morning as I contemplated the characters in the novels I’ve written to date. They’ve all had one key friend, and usually a small circle of others—the healthy characters, that is. And in none of the stories did the main character set out to find a friend or manufacture friendships for his or her journey. Nor did I sit down to intentionally create a friend for the character.
As the story unfolded, they entered the scene organically. As friends do in real life.
When I was in high school, friendship was most closely connected to fun, laughter, and common interests. Band friends, forensics friends, National Honor Society friends, drama friends, chorus friends, lunchroom friends, after school friends…
Notice I didn’t mention any friendships centered around my sports prowess. I had none. Prowess, that is.
I had friends within the youth group at church, one who eventually became my husband. Bible quizzing friends. Summer camp friends. Pen pal friends.
Common interests and fun.
The tight circle of girlfriends from high school morphed with moods. This week Sheri isn’t talking to Michelle, so there are five rather than six of us for the sleepover. The next week Dynae is on the outs with Sophie, but Michelle and Sheri are speaking to each other again. And some rare weeks, everyone was speaking with everyone else.
But as an adult, the value of friendship is less about laughter—although I count on my friends for that—and less about common interests—which have matured into common passions—and more about hope.
Friends help each other hang onto hope. We carry hope tenderly for each other when it seems fragile or tentative.
A friend who’d been through an unbearable series of hardships—relationally, financially, medically—told me she was losing her grip on hope. I told her the words that had poured salve over my own heart years ago. “I’ll hold onto hope for you until you’re stronger. That’s what friends are for.”
About Cynthia Ruchti
Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed-in-hope through award-winning novels, novellas, devotions, nonfiction, and through frequent speaking events for women or writers. Her latest novel—A Fragile Hope—underscores the importance of friends who help us tighten our grip on hope when it seems too fragile to endure. You can connect with her at cynthiaruchti.com, hemmedinhope.com, or facebook.com/CynthiaRuchtiReaderPage and twitter.com/cynthiaruchti.