Imaginary friend? Or best friend?
“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
John 15:15 (NIV)
In trouble again and no-one to talk to! Oh, how I wished I had a big brother to fight my battles for me! These were often my thoughts as the oldest of three children – it really did feel as though the buck stopped with me. In child play, children will frequently talk to their toys or have an imaginary friend. In the case of the latter, children can adopt a close relationship with this non-existent friend. According to Psychology Today:
Children with invisible friends can readily describe what these friends look like and how they behave. Many children even offer details about hearing or touching their invisible friends. Invisible friends can sometimes be a part of the life of a child – and a family – for years.1
Some psychologists claim that as many as 65% of children up to the age of 7 at some point have an imaginary friend.2 Experts have given the situation or condition a name – it is called Paracosm. Michael Dickinson, a Canadian Paediatric Society spokesperson and paediatrician in Miramichi, NB., assures parents, ‘It’s not a cause for concern, this can be a routine part of normal childhood development.’3
Generally, children grow out of the need for an imaginary friend. But how often as adults do we feel the need for a friend in whom we can confide and open our hearts to? What a relief it would be to have someone we can be totally honest with concerning our thoughts and feelings.
All too often Christians sing the 19th century hymn What a Friend We Have in Jesus without really considering the depth of the meaning. To have the Son of’ God as your best friend is a blessing above measure. He offers us rest and peace in Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” He will listen to us when we are joyful, discontent, angry or depressed. 1 John 5:14 says, ‘This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.’
I know some people who would tell you that having an older brother is not always wonderful, that they can lose patience with irritating siblings. Well, our spiritual elder brother never loses patience with us. He is on our side – we are His family – as we read in Hebrews 2:11, ‘Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.’ Thanks be to God that is reality for Christians – not imagination.
Our loving Father, thank you for giving us Jesus, our elder brother, who loves and understands us because He lived as we live. May we rely on Him, trust Him, and love Him each day. Amen
Study by Irene Wilson
About the writer:
Irene Wilson is a Deaconess in the Watford Congregation of Grace Communion International, where she also serves on the Pastoral Council.
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