There are a lot of people I have met throughout my lifetime. I would suspect many of them probably don’t read this site so I am not worried about them reading this post and getting the wrong idea. Now that I think about it, I don’t really care if they were to read this or not. It would probably be a good thing in some respects. This post is about rethinking friendships.
The author of Proverbs 19:7 says, “A poor man is shunned by all his relatives – how much more do his friends avoid him! Though he pursues them with pleading, they are nowhere to be found.” I am beginning to understand this passage the more I go into the city on Monday nights to hang out with the homeless. It is interesting how the homeless even treat one another. The more I discuss matters of family (i.e. brothers and sisters), most just shake their head and state that their family has deserted them, even in their times of need. That confuses me. How can family not support family? How can friends negate the needs of another friend simply because of his present status as a homeless person? I cannot tell you how many people I have met who are in similar situations regarding their family and friends. What is wrong with this picture? It isn’t supposed to be this way.
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). This is where things get a little sticky on my end. This is where I start getting a little personal about friendships. As I have written, I have known a lot of people. There have been people in my life who simply used me to gain more popularity with another crowd or social group, and there are those who have been a “friend” out of pity or charity. Some of these people still exist and have created some of the crap that lays waste around me. They are the people who are like Job’s friends – those who either make you feel like you are the worst person in the world or those who try and philosophically explain why you are messed up. I don’t know why I allow them to have such power. I guess sometimes, their words of shame somehow allow you to feel pain, which is apart of living. Maybe that is the wrong reason to have people like that in my life. God knows I don’t allow them to hang around in order to convert them or something. They are stiff-necked like me.
I am lucky though. I do have a few friends I feel like I can be real with. I can be myself around them all the time and they know when I am not. I can’t hide anything from them, even if I wanted to, which I don’t. They just need to look at me and they know, without even saying a word that I am in need of encouragement, prayer, or support. I like the fact that I have people like that in my life. I just wish I didn’t take them for granted as much as I do.
So what’s a friend? I don’t know the exhausted definition. All I know is that a friend is someone that sticks closer than a brother. I was think about that today at work what that entails. Have you ever taken two pieces of paper and glued them together? If you try and remove the papers from one another, inevitably, the paper will rip several times over, leave parts of the other behind. That is what it is like to be a friend who is closer than a brother. It goes beyond blood.
Where does this leave me then? I am not 100 percent sure. I guess all I can say is that I am rethinking the friendships that I have with people. I am learning how to discern the value of friendships and how much I will allow them to influence my walk or me with God. I will ask the tough questions we seem to never ask: “Would so-and-so be willing to come over to my house and pray for a couple of hours if I really needed prayer or would they say something like, “I will get back to you later, boss?”” I hope that they would be willing to do the former rather than the ladder.
Being a friend is more than just switching phone numbers, being friends on facebook, and hanging out. It is about being real in community and in private. It is about having the ability to share your life with someone, despite the crap that comes along with it. Friendship goes beyond myspace, favorite music, and PS2. Those are not friendships. Those are acquaintances and I have way too many of those.
In conclusion, I have decided to take friendship to a newer level. I have decided to make it something tangible and real – like my relationship with Christ, which is my ultimate friendship example. If you are looking for a fool-proof test in order to see if someone is a real friend, simply go to 1 Corinthians 13 and replace the word “love” with your friend’s name. Do they inhabit those qualities despite your downfalls and greatest sins? Or do you find it hard to place their name there and believe what you are saying is true? I know no one s perfect. I know people will let you down during some point of your life. It is bound to happen. That’s okay. I just want to know if the people who are in my life really are people who care about me or if they are simply befriending me for the sake of personal gain or edification. If that is what they are looking for, tell them that they probably would be better off searching some friendship hotline on the phone or something. Friendships are not jokes. They are not things you take out and play with every once in a while and then put back when you are done. It is something that is on display for everyone to see. I hope the friendships you have are genuine and honest. I hope that when you place their name over love, it makes sense. Though I do not have many, I am glad for the friendships I have. They are important to me, more than they could ever know. Thank you