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Most of all, love each other steadily and unselfishly, because love makes up for many faults. I Peter 4:8 (The Voice)

Living with teenagers is a lot like living in a Friends episode. Lots of plot twists, plenty of drama . . . and some comedies of error that aren’t always so funny.

Report cards came home last week, and I am very proud of my children’s academic successes. After all, the middle school course load is heavy one.

However, I’m just as interested in tests that won’t be reflected on the transcript. Growing up—and the life lessons that come with it—makes for some challenging curriculum.

Of all the things kids must learn about in junior high, relationships may be the toughest subject of all. Friendship in particular poses some hard questions: “How do I cope with disappointment, failure and hurt? How do I get back up after a friend has let me down?”

This fall our family syllabus has been full of such moments:

She didn’t show. He didn’t apologize. The friend who always had my back left me exposed to evil and evil-doers.

Nothing hurts a school kid worse than having a friend throw you under the bus. Nothing hurts a parent worse than watching it happen.

And nothing is more challenging than finding the best solution. Inevitably my children’s trials mean a pop quiz for me. What is the right answer? Do I:

  1. Ignore it;
  2. Try to fix it; or
  3. Disciple my children through it.

I can do nothing . . .  I can try to do everything . . . or I can make the most of a teachable moment. And that is when we all learn something new. Goodness knows I could always use some continuing ed. on the subject.

The upside of failure is that it sends us back to the classroom for Divine instruction. Wouldn’t you know, God’s textbook has a lot to say about friendship. Like how to exhibit forgiveness, grace and mercy. How to reconcile with a broken world . . . and how to be reconcilers in it.

The fact is, sooner or later, we’re all going to bomb the friendship test. We forget to call. Fail to apologize. Say the wrong thing for the right reason. Because any equation that starts with two imperfect people is bound to contain some errors. And even the best of friends can face the worst of times.

Lucky for us, we can get remedial help any time we need it. As disciples of Christ, we are lovingly schooled in the art of relationship. Jesus came to teach friendship . . . by becoming our best friend.

My commandment to you is this: love others as I have loved you. There is no greater way to love than to give your life for your friends. You celebrate our friendship if you obey this command. I don’t call you servants any longer . . . I call you friends. John 15: 12-15 (The Voice)