I can tell you about dinner that evening, where my fish was so spicy that my lips were on fire. I can tell you about how I requested a Johnny Cash song, about the belly laughs and about the deep conversations we had over blueberry cheesecake. I feel a weight in my chest, one foot in front of the other, hand in hand, walking Emily to her flight at Entebbe International. The car ride home was silent, one less piece of toast to make at breakfast the following morning.
There are certain friendships that open wide my eyes, friendships that awaken my soul to soak in every ounce of sunshine, every last drop of African spiced tea, every rich word spoken. These people are treasures. They’ve been scattered throughout my lifetime, my sisters who were there before I can remember, my junior high best friend. They’re all over the world, working at a church in Louisiana, going to nursing school in Texas, teaching in Germany. God put many people in my path, and I’m very thankful for each friend I’ve made. But there are rare friendships that I absolutely know were sent from Jesus to me. These relationships seem somehow God-ordained. They’re beyond friends. These people are my tribe.
I think God has been stirring up this concept of tribe-mates in my mind for a while. It began in a letter to my friend Presley. I didn’t have words for it then, but I could have just summed up the whole two pages by simply writing “Presley, you are my tribe.”
I was reading in 1 Samuel this morning, and saw in David and Jonathan this concept of a tribe, of friends who are with each other, heart and soul. It reads
As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. -1 Samuel 18:1
God will give you many people to live out your days with, laugh with, share a few meals with. These are people who will come and go, here for a season, gone the next. But I’m starting to see that The Father gives a circle of gem friends. The ones whose souls are knit to yours. The tribe.
A tribe-mate sticks. It's someone who, no matter the distance or time, stays by your side. A tribe-mate cannot leave. Your hearts are stitched together, always and to the end. Even if one wanted to leave, I don’t think he could, because the friendship is so set apart by The Father, it cannot be shaken. These are the ones who make you feel alive, who awaken your soul to worship God, who stir up your heart and cause you to seek Jesus harder. These are the people you pray your guts out for, the ones you would do anything for, your tribe. I thank God for my small band of Jesus followers and adventure-lovers. Far-away friends and Ugandan brothers. We are all knit together heart and soul.
So who is your tribe?