Frankness about Friendship

Here are a few thoughts about something precious to me that can sometimes evoke feelings of sadness or inadequacy.  Friendship.  How much do we need?  How much do I want?  How well do I do it?

According to Facebook, I have 381 friends.  I could probably list another 100+ people who I refer to as friends, people I like and have spent time with, but have not connected with on social media.  My relationship with most of these folks meets this definition of friendship from Merriam-Webster, “a friendly feeling or attitude”.  But check out this definition from Urban Dictionary , which includes the statements that friendship is “much underrated in our society” and sums it up this way: ” A friendship can best be thought of as two people side by side looking forward toward a common goal”.

My own definition would include these benefits of friendship:  being known and accepted, sharing common experiences and trials, support you can count on, enjoyment and laughter.  The length of the relationship is not  as important as the depth.  However, I have great appreciation for those friends who have known me for most of my life.  I honestly don’t know how I would have made it through school – First Grade through College – without a few close friends!  With one reliable friend who sees the world as you do, anyone can face difficult days.

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But we fail each other.  As a kid, my neighbor and I fought to be the best friend of a third girl.  Our human hearts can produce envy or selfish ambition that results in broken relationships.  Some of my saddest times have come from growing close to someone only to watch them move away, or finding myself leaving them for the next stage in my life.  It’s risky.

As a person who loves people, but also values time alone, I admit to being  guarded in new relationships if I think that the other person may want more interaction than I desire.  And then there’s the sadness/guilt I feel about how infrequently I talk to or see some of my dearest friends who live a  hundred or a thousand miles away.  Thankfully, those relationships have the depth to last, and eventually one of us picks up the phone.  Plus, we are able to share joys, concerns and even prayers for each other through the wonders of the internet.

After contemplating this topic for a few days, I realize that most of the joy I have in friendship comes from one of these three relationships.

  1. My husband of 32 years is my best friend. (I feel that I can say that without offending other friends.)  I was surprised when the first thing he offered me as we got to know each other was friendship.  The time we spend together each day means more than I can express .
  2. In the words of Michael W. Smith, “friends are friends forever if the Lord’s the Lord of them”.  There truly is a special bond within the family of God that allows for depth of love whether we’ve known each other for a long or short time.
  3. I have to acknowledge that if all of the relationships I’ve mentioned ended, I would still have my eternal friend, God.  If you know him, you understand.  If you don’t understand, allow me to express how my life changed when my friendship with God began.  When I only knew about God, no matter how well things were going in my life, there was always a feeling of insecurity, a sense that something wasn’t right; something was missing.  With him in the center of my life, no matter how difficult or frustrating it gets, there is always a deep sense that it is well with my soul, that there is no need to fear;  I am loved.

 

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