So I was just thinking about friendship in general. I guess its something you’re more likely to think off as the years start passing by. Even at 31 I start to see the value of true friendship and the difference between how our society defines friendship and how true friendship really is. There are several things that came from this mental exercise. Now, before I go into that, I have to say, these are my observations…not that I’m an expert on friendship, but just observations I’ve made.
1. Friendship is not meant for everyone:
Our society longs for friendship but generally are not willing to pay the cost of it. Friendship is not cheap nor easy in the same way marriage is not cheap or easy. It is not wrong to withhold your friendship from people…true friendship that is. Not be confused with acquaintance. These are two different things. Acquaintance is mainly what exists in our society. Most of us have many acquaintances. This can be good and can be bad. Nevertheless, the problem arises when society names these as friends.
True friendship is so foreign to our societies minds that when it does exist between individuals, society will think of them as strange and unnatural. I say this (all of it so far) to state the point that friendship is costly. It is meant to be costly for most people can only afford one or two friends. Some are gifted and can afford more but generally we are poor when it comes to “friend money”. Thus we cannot afford that many friends. Society (with the advent of things like facebook and twitter , etc) tells us that we can have many many many many friends. And while these venues are not bad or evil in anyway by themselves, the mentality of society and its confusion of the term friendship is hurting and can downright cripple a person. Some individuals are very charismatic and enjoy the attention of many people. Because of their charisma, most people will think they are friends with the individual only to find that they are not. This is not a bad thing. If someone who possess charisma were to be friends (real friend) with all those people, he/she would not be able to focus on anything but them for a true friend will cost you time, energy. money, emotion, time, thought, time, time , time Oh and time.
2. Friendship is purposeful:
This is something most people miss. The notion that friendship “just happens” is almost as ridiculous as saying a marriage “just happens”. Granted I dont go about wearing a tux and taking my friends hand before a judge saying “I do”. But a friendship in many ways is a marriage. A commitment to be there and love at all times, no matter what. In essence til death do you part. ” Friends can be said to “fall in like” with as profound a thud as romantic partners fall in love.” ~Letty Cottin Pogrebin. Pretty strong I now, but in the scriptures it says “no greater love has been shown that a man should give his life for His friends” This of course was my Savior who gave His life for us all, but it is also an image of true friendship. You see when you are friends with someone you truly give them your life. You dont hold secrets from them, nor your heart, nor your thoughts. You unveil yourself thus coming out of the walls you’ve built to keep people out. You let them in. meaning, they will be a source of pain but also a source of great joy. Because of this, you have to purposefully let someone in. This cant “just happen”. You have to be purposeful with your time giving them priority over others. Yes this means you are bias. An example. My friend calls me up and tells me he needs to talk in person. right after an acquaintance calls me up and says he wants to hang out. as a friend i will say no to the acquaintance and go to my friend who needs to talk. This is just an example but hopefully you get the point. Now you see why people cant have too many friends (what happens when all of them call at the same time and all of them want to talk….AHHHH Madness) lol.
3. Know your role
In your dealings with people on a day to day basis, you might get really acquainted with someone. This is not bad. However, and I repeat, acquaintance and friendship are two very different animals. If you really like this acquaintance, the temptation will be to
demand more from this acquaintance than he/she is willing to give. This can and will create a rift in any relationship. It is important that you know you’re roll in a given relationship. If you are an acquaintance, you cannot demand another persons time, thoughts, bias, etc. You can ask for it and if this person gives it to you, good! But you cannot get upset if this person withholds such from you. This just means your an acquaintance. This is not bad, its just what it is. True friendship is a mutual commitment. Both must agree and know that they are friends (the true friends). This sounds trivial but it escapes most people. For you see, one may think they are the friend of someone when all along he/she is just an acquaintance. So how can you tell the difference? I dont think theres a set test or anything like that. However I find that:
a. Friends think about each other, often
b. Its not a difficult task to communicate to each other (ie, calling, dropping by the house, etc)
c. They truly enjoy each others company
d. They argue (ill explain this one later)
e. they are different (normally)
f. they “know”
These are by no means exhaustive but these I observe happen a lot in true friendships.
4. Friendship brews conflict (arguments is a form of conflict).
Conflict is not always a bad thing. Conflict produces stress which forces us to grow as an individual. The reason why conflict has gotten such a bad rap is because most people don’t know how to handle it (myself included). However, true intimacy brews conflict because the more you know someone, the more comfortable you are to display disapproval at things. Its natural, people are different thus there will always be some form of conflict. However, when you work through these conflicts, your relationship is strengthened. How are diamonds created? They are minerals which are under intense pressure for a very long time. Think of pressure as conflict and the diamond as a wonderful friendship that has weathered the storm and is now that much stronger. Meaning that a friendship that avoids conflict at all costs might be more of an acquaintance then a friendship.
5. To be acquainted with someone is not bad.
So you figured out that you are just an acquaintance or that the people you know are just acquaintances to you. This is not a bad thing. I think the nature of a friendship is so involved that it cannot possibly be shared with many. Thus most of the people that you know or will know or know you are acquaintances. This cannot be avoided. Does this mean that you are unloving and hateful to your acquaintances? no. what it does mean is that there is a level of intimacy that an acquaintance cant reach or demand.
I think that a friendship , much like a wife, is a gift from the Lord. So rare, but when you have it, its worth more than diamonds or gold
or anything you can really think of. like C.S. Lewis says “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”. So precious and so rare that ” If you have two friends in your lifetime, you’re lucky. If you have one good friend, you’re more than lucky.’ SE Hinton.
Juan Castillo Jr.