Monday, April 14, 2008

What is a Friend?

I've thought a lot about this question over the weekend. I'm not going to go into detail, but let's just say I have been extremely hurt. I'm not a crier, to be honest I don't really show my emotions very well, but I've cried many tears this weekend.

What is a true friend to you?

Most of us can name several people we call friends, and some would name quite a few. Others might count their friends on just a few fingers. We have a lot of acquaintances, but friends are fewer. A friend is someone we can hang out with, have fun with and depend on. The Bible has a lot to say about friendship, but it’s different from what we might expect. Our preoccupation is usually with having friends. The Bible's focus is on being a friend.

You can read about King David & Jonathan in the book of 1 Samuel 19 and 20. Jonathan's friendship with David is one of the most outstanding and moving stories in all of Scripture, perhaps in all of literature. . . . Few are the people blessed enough to know a committed friendship such as Jonathan’s. David calls Jonathan his brother, reminiscent of the verses from Proverbs. Jonathan was closer to David than a brother. He was closer than a wife. Such analogies speak deeply of commitment, for the fundamental bond between brother and brother, or husband and wife, is commitment. Commitment is the word that unlocks the real meaning of friendship.

“What is a friend? A single soul in two bodies.” — Aristotle

You can have a lot of acquaintances, but only a few people will become your best friends. These are kindred spirits, much like David and Jonathan in the bible, whose souls were “knit together.” Friendships like this will endure, even though the intensity of the friendship will ebb and flow over time.

One of the dangers in this kind of friendship is co-dependency. The sheer delight of having such a friend can also create weighty expectations in the relationship. A good question for friends to ask regularly is, “Are we truly seeking the other person’s highest good?”

“A true friend stabs you in the front.” — Oscar Wilde

Leave it to Oscar Wilde to lay out an important truth with such wry humor. A true friend is one who helps you see the truth, even if it hurts. This doesn’t mean we can go around stabbing our friends with hurtful words. Rather, it means being up front with friends about important issues, raising gentle questions with tact and love, never gossiping or putting them down to others behind their backs.

“I do not wish to treat friendships daintily, but with the roughest courage. When they are real, they are not glass threads or frost-work, but the solidest thing we know.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Real friendships don’t just happen, and they aren’t maintenance free. Ask yourself and your friend questions like these:

“How would you describe our friendship?”

“What is God doing in each of us, separately and together?”

“How can we help each other become all God wants us to be?”

Seeking another person’s highest good: that’s being a true friend.

3 comments:

Mari said...

I'm sorry you were hurt. Good friends are a true blessing and you are right - we do have to work at it.

Jen said...

I'm so sorry this family hurt you. We have alot of friends..good friends, acquaintances, best friends...both sides have to work at friendships. It's hard at times. We have a group of friends (10 couples actually) and we are pretty tight...we are there when babies are born, cook for each other, go to dinner with one another, we are there when a loved one passes, we are there when one is hurting...we have cried together, laughed until we couldn't laugh anymore together....and most important we pray together.....pray God keeps us strong, and honest with one another...I'm praying for your strength and forgiveness of this person to get through this.

Valerie said...

This posts is just so true in everyday life. I think this is life. I was hurt yesterday by more than a friend, but a family member. We just have to love, hold on, and do what is right. Thank you for this. I love you. I will lift you up in prayer for strength as I know you also will me. I love you, Val