Students and teachers aren’t supposed to be friends. I know because I was an education major. Every teaching methods class reiterated that teachers are not supposed to be “buddy-buddy” with students. Fortunately, Miss Sarah Eshleman had a degree in writing, not education. She may have heard that principle in faculty meetings, but being the generous person that she is, she seemed to ignore it. In every Creative Writing and Copy Writing class I attended my sophomore year of college, Miss Eshleman opened class with a story from her weekend, a question about campus happenings, a smile, and a quick laugh. Her openness made me wish I were faculty instead of student so that I had a chance to become friends with her outside the classroom.
Then I decided to take a risk.
My junior year, my class schedule allowed me to take Copy Editing II—the class that edited and produced Fountains, the college literary publication. Since Miss Eshleman taught the class, I determined to sign up. But on the first day of class, I slid into my seat with a two-fold worry: first, that I was taking a class way above my skill level; second, that I was risking Miss Eshleman’s good opinion of me.
At the end of my sophomore courses, Miss Eshleman appeared to consider me a sweet girl and a hard worker. But what if she learned what I was truly like? Self-absorbed, insecure, and possessor of countless other faults that I tried to hide from people I admired.
I was taking a risk.
And I gambled on a semester that turned out to be the most trying semester of my college career. By the end, I had poured out attitudes and frustrations to Miss Eshleman that I couldn’t even sort through to know the right and wrong of. But in taking the risk, I found one of the truest, most generous friendships I’ve ever experienced. I found that Miss Eshleman wouldn’t judge me or cut me off for my faults, but accept me and encourage me to overcome them.
Opening ourselves to friendships requires risk, leaving us open to rejection. In our first kindergarten friendships, we felt a quickened heartbeat as we simply asked, “Will you be my friend?” In our teenage relationships, we gripped a food tray and tried to keep our voices from squeaking as we asked, “Hey, can I sit with you?” As adults, we convince ourselves that a potential friend is too busy to take time for a morning coffee. I mean, she might not even like coffee.
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But did you realize that there is one friendship that you don’t have to risk rejection for?
We know that Sunday school teachers and shouting preachers insist that Jesus should be our “best friend.” But did you realize that we don’t have to take a risk on Jesus because He took the risk on us? 1 John 4:19 says, “We love him, because he first loved us.” Jesus offered His friendship first and proved His acceptance for us by His death on the cross. He accepts us as we are, with all of our faults and sins, and strengthens us to overcome our failings to be stronger, better people. We can reject Him, but He will not reject us. He promises, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you” (Jeremiah 29:13-14). He won’t close Himself off. He will not avoid us or get caught up in His own concerns. He will be the most generous, loyal friend we could ever wish for if we simply risk accepting his offer.
It’s not really even a risk.
So say yes to Jesus’s offer of friendship. Sit down and chat with Him. Who knows? He might even like coffee.