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  • Writer's pictureJocelyn E. Collen

You are My Friend, You’re Special to Me

F-R-I-E-N-D. We all know what that spells. Friends are the best gift we can have. Friendship can get us through any sorrow, hardship, illness, or failure. Friendship can also accompany us as we celebrate birthdays, accomplishments, promotions, relationships, ordinations, holidays, or just the weekend! Can you imagine a party that does not have any guests besides ourselves? Our friends make the party into a party! 

I learned how to spell the word friend from Mister Rogers. In his 1987 song, “You Are Special,” he spells out the word friend for us like this: 

F-R-I-E-N-D special

You are my friend,

You’re special to me.

There’s only one in this wonderful world

You are special.” 

What a profoundly incredible, beautiful statement. Mister Rogers was one of my first teachers and continues to be one of my spiritual guides. How could anything in the world top being special, being reminded of our uniqueness, our individuality, and how loved we are? Mister Rogers preaches this love, and this love is from God. God loves us in such a profound way, just like this friendship Mister Rogers describes. God thinks we are so special. God likes us exactly as we are. No matter what. This profound love, that Mister Rogers teaches in this song, and our friend Jesus teaches us in the Gospel today, is so incredible that we must share it with one another through loving our friends. 

We all want to feel special. We all need to feel special. God thinks we are special. We need to be reminded of our unique, profound likeability and special place in the world. Friendship can help mirror for us the love that God has for each of us. When we love one another, we reflect God’s love into each other’s lives. Nothing is more beautiful. 

Our world today is so good at talking about romantic love and the love between parents and children. These are special kinds of love that are also essential to creating and sustaining human life. BUT they are far from the only important love. Friendship is a deep kind of love that is also essential. Friendship is a free gift that we choose to give, and we choose to receive. Friendship is a commitment that is not obligatory, and is really a generous gift that is given out of love. Friendship can be valuable and life saving. Jesus loved his friends, healed his friends, forgave his friends, carried his friends, and taught his friends, even when they betrayed him, didn’t tell him the whole story, left him, or stopped believing in him. Jesus was always there for his friends. 

Loving our friends and loving one another is rooted in the deep knowledge that God loves us immensely. This gift of this love is what we share with one another when we love one another. God loves us more than we can ever imagine or dream. Sharing God’s love, and therefore our love, with our friends is important, and is the invitation we hear from Jesus today. 

The English language doesn’t have enough words for love. We need more words for love. We need to be able to tell our best friends how much we love them with a different word than we use to tell our parents/partners/children that we love them. The love of friendship is deep and can help us soar. In the classic Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, friendship is summarized perfectly: “No [wo/]man is a failure who has friends.” 

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