“Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…’”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
Greater love has no one than this that one lay down his life for his friend. John 15:13
I’ve been thinking about friends. No not those friends…… Maybe it’s a result of getting older but it just seems like the importance of friends has been on my mind. I think we go through different phases in our lives where we feel stronger or more independent and think we can handle everything on our own and then at other times need to depend on others. Basically though we are social creatures and learn to develop relationships very early on. I was watching my 16 month old grandson interacting with a baby about his age at the rodeo this summer. It was fun to watch them kind of checking each other out.
Most people have several circles of friends, work friends, or hobby friends, friends who are also family or just acquaintances. But very few of our acquaintances or friends are the kind of friend who we consider a “true friend.” How many people in your circle of friends do you consider the kind of friend that you have total faith in? A person that you can tell anything to, a person that knows all about you, the good the bad and the ugly and is still your friend? A person that will always defend you and will have your back no matter what happens? I know in my life that number is pretty small. But maybe it’s bigger than I realize.
I went to my 40th high school class reunion last summer and it was a wonderful, fun-filled weekend of reconnecting with friends from high school most of whom I had not seen for years. I was amazed and how so many of us who had been friends in school just kind of picked up where we left off years earlier and I also made new friends with others that I hadn’t been that close to in school. There was an ease in communication and a comfort level that I don’t often feel with other friends who I see much more often. In contrast I had a friend I had known for years, socialized with, confided in, and trusted who all of a sudden turned on me, started talking about me behind my back and just didn’t want to be friends anymore. What is it that makes one person a friend and others not so much? What is it that makes someone truly a friend versus just an acquaintance? What is it that causes that wall of fear or distrust to come down so that you can be real friends? Have you had an acquaintance that you might even spend a lot of time with but never get to that place of trust? I have had a friend who I was never able to really be comfortable with because it seemed that everything was always a competition, if I got something nice she would find something wrong with it, if I told a story she would have to find an error in it, we never got to a comfort level of true friendship.
My mother used to always quote a proverb to us as kids, “for a man to have friends, he must show himself friendly.” I wonder then, can the solution to having friends be as simple as to be a friend. How good a friend am I?
Am I the kind of friend who sticks closer than a brother, I am the kind of friend who would lay down my life for my friends? Laying down your life for your friends is more that literally dying for your friends, it is also giving of yourself, your time, your desires, and your own way to make room in your life and in your soul for your friends. I think of how many friends I have but what is more important is how many people call me their friend? How many people am I loyal to? How many people do I have that can trust me not to tell their secrets, to be there with an encouraging word, to love, and care, and really listen when they talk? Or am I more concerned with how I look, what I think, my point of view or my needs to pay attention to what my friend thinks, feels or needs. In discussions am I more concerned with being right than I am with being a friend?
What kind of friend am I?
Grace and Peace