The Real Deal

“We’re retired,” John and I say to each other every Sunday afternoon, “for the next thirty-six hours.” And then we celebrate by taking a very long nap. The next morning we clear our heads by exploring a lonely road and hiking.

This week we found wild elderberries (is there any other kind?) to juice for winter; an old fireplace and chimney to build a story around, and a genuine cowboy. The Real Deal. I’m talking forty years of rodeo riding. Recently widowed and mourning his wife with whom he “shared a bedroll for forty-seven years” (they met in third grade), he had a lot to say about marriage. I’ll share one gold nugget of his:

“People talkin’ about marriage nowadays think only about sex and all that crap. I wanna say, ‘Yeah? And whadaya gonna do the other twenty-three and a half hours of every day, huh? I’ll tell you what. You’d better be best friends, that’s what.’”

He cried a lot in the hour we were with him, and we all prayed together and hugged before we said goodbye.

Funny—I’d just thanked John that morning for being my best friend.

But since then, I’ve been thinking about what makes that so, and why married couples often settle for less, sometimes barely tolerating each other. I’m certain they don’t treat their friends that way.

How do we treat best friends? Well—for starters—we think the best of them, we encourage them, we sympathize with their struggles, we use common courtesy like please and thank you. We listen. We talk. NICELY.

What if we kept adding to our list, and applied it to that person we do life with twenty-four/seven …er…I mean twenty-three and a half/seven?

That would be a really great life.


“This is my beloved, and this is my friend.” Song of Solomon 5:16

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