"Friends" and Community

“So, no one told you life was gonna be this wayYour jobs a joke, your broke, your love life’s D.O.A. It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year But I’ll be there for you (when the rain starts to pour) I’ll be there for you (like I’ve been there before) I’ll be there for you (because you’re there for me too)” – Friends Theme Song

So, I have a little confession. I LOVE the show “Friends”. We own all 10 seasons and I’m guessing that I’ve probably seen from season 1 to season 10 straight through in order close to 10 times. I enjoy Friends because I find it funny and a bit mindless, which means it’s relaxing for me to watch (unlike some of my other show additions, like LOST). But, I’ve realized lately that there is something deeper portrayed in Friends and it’s probably the real reason that I love Friends, because, it’s a core value of mine… Community.

I don’t know why it took watching the show for so long in order for me to realize it, but Friends is a great picture of true community. Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Ross, Joey and Chandler aren’t just Friends they are a community. They live life together in a very real and consistent manner. I thought of so many examples of this, here’s just a few:

1.       They share meals together regularly (basically daily or almost daily)

2.       They share their homes with each other – when Ross loses his job and apartment he moves in with Joey and Chandler, when Phoebe and Rachel’s apartment catches on fire Phoebe moves in with Monica and Rachel moves in with Joey, etc.

3.       They take care of each other when one or more of them is in a difficult financial situation – Chandler pays for most of Joeys expenses while Joey’s trying to make it as an actor, Ross gives Monica money for rent when she loses her job, Phoebe loans Monica money to start a catering company, they all pitch in to pay for Rachel to go on a vacation with her family, etc.

4.       They encourage each other and cry with one another through break ups and deaths and job losses and infertility and everything life throws at them

5.       They are always there for each other even when it means sacrificing something that they wanted – for example when Rachel brakes a rib and Ross takes her to the emergency room instead of going to his TV interview

6.       They know each other inside and out and share their secrets, hopes and fears with one another.

7.       They fight with each other – they are real and open and themselves around each other and sometimes that leads to fights and messy situations and they don’t try to avoid that or just put on a mask, they are real and that means they get angry with each other and show it – but they are also always able to work past it and forgive each other

8.       They go above and beyond the norm in order to make each other happy and fulfill each other’s desires and dreams – with this I think of the time when Ross found out that Phoebe never had a bike and so he goes out and buys her a bike for no real reason other than care for his friend.

All of this happens largely by choice – each person chooses to love and care for each of the others. But, it also happens largely by proximity. For most of the show at least four of them live across the hall from each other and the others aren’t far away either. This allows for things like sharing breakfast together before work, meeting at the coffee shop down stairs after work, and hanging out countless other times together. When you spend that much time that close to another person it becomes so much easier for you to meet their needs and be there for them because you know what their needs are and you are already present in their lives. When you live in that close of a proximity with someone else it’s also really difficult to be fake and put up a mask - because that person is always there they naturally start to see the real you.

I enjoy Friends for a lot of reasons, but I think the reason I love Friends is because it’s a picture of what I’ve always wanted… real, honest, authentic, caring, holistic community.

Rejoicing in the journey - Bethany

I recently read this post written by Alan Knox at The Assembling of the Church and think he has some great things to say about community.