Sitting in a coffee shop waiting for my friend to show up so we can catch up from a seemingly long and unwanted hiatus, I look up as more and more people walk in together with someone and my curious nature kicks in which allows me to wonder if they are friends or spouses or perhaps they’re just meeting to discuss some business. The truth is that because I get to overhear some of their conversation it provides clues so I can ascertain the relationship. It’s kind of like a game to me and sometimes I do guess correctly but sometimes I don’t…oh, sometimes I am way wrong! Being a fan of old fashioned friendship, it stirs me up to see people laughing, talking, and enjoying one another in what seems to be close sincere relationships and my heart is warmed for the moment. I love hearing people act on their friendships in the ways that only they know the deeper meanings both the giver and receiver. Yes, call me old fashion but this is true friendship the way it is supposed to be.
With this being said, it brings to mind what J. R. Miller wrote,
“To become another’s friend in the true sense is to take the other into such close, living fellowship that his life and ours are knit together as one. It is far more than a pleasant companionship in bright, sunny hours. A genuine friendship is entirely unselfish. It seeks no benefit or good of its own. It does not love—for what it may receive—but for what it may give. Its aim is “not to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45).
This extremely personal and deeply felt definition comes alive as I continue to observe those around me and best I can, listen to bits and pieces of their words back and forth, with their looking at each other or the occasional glance in a different direction, but engaged none the less.
Let’s make it personal, meaning let’s bring it home to you as someone’s friend. Are you able to be the friend the definition describes? Can your friend say you are “that” friend? If so, you are truly one in a million, but if not, I ask you, “why not”? Hear my heart, I don’t judge you one way or the other, but I am just curious as to your personal assessment of being a friend.
I can say this, whether or not you feel you’re being the best possible friend to someone, no one can say that it’s right or wrong. You are who you are and the same goes for your friend but I would like for you to imagine what the possibility could be if each person in a relationship were able to be exactly like the verse above states? Wow, each trying to outserve the other to the point that love was the driving power behind that friendship. What a difference that would make in you and in others. It would literally change the way you do life because to have this for any friend means you are capable of having this for your spouse, if married, your children and the rest of the family. The world in its present state would be impacted dramatically. And we all would be the better for it.
So…being or becoming a friend means what exactly? Seriously…have you ever wondered how good friendships come about? Do you have any deep friendships with anyone? Let me tell you that this kind of friend doesn’t just pop up overnight. Sold friends get there in many ways, many experiences together, where laughter is a huge part and equally, where tears are shed together. Here are a few thoughts for you to consider while working out or working on the kind of friend you may or may not be. True friendship is a very personal thing because it takes commitment and this means that it demands a “not give up” attitude and willingness to stay the course, regardless of what may come. Keep in mind, commitment and convenience are two separate entities and the difference between the two is that commitment is an effort outward and convenience is an effort inward. Don’t miss that point because the level of friend you are or want to be is founded on one or the other. Again, accepting one or the other does not mean that there is a right one and a wrong one, but it does mean that the quality of what you are looking for is going to be founded on either one of them.
Friendships can be inconvenient, meaning it can and will cost you your personal convenience at times. It also requires spending time with someone in order to build the friendship from scratch so to speak, but it turns out to be well worth it. Consider that the effort you put into this friendship means that you invest authentically and intimately with another. You spill your guts out when needed, listen when required without trying to “fix” a situation. In other words, if you cannot share from the deepest parts of who you are then chances are that you’ll just prepare a shallow relationship and never move beyond that. Then there is wanting to add your love to the mix, knowing all along that it can be taken advantage of, rejected, and even tossed aside but any thing that is good has to be founded in love. Loving someone not for what they can do for you or give you, but because you are willing to hand it to another person. The way you love speaks more about the quality of friend you are than the quality of someone else.
All in all, friendship, whether it is one or many, needs all the aforementioned components. It needs love and time in particular to nurture it, to grow in a healthy manner, and to deeply enrich not only you but the person that is receiving this from you. Next time you sit for coffee with a friend pay close attention to your interactions, your attention, and ask yourself if this person feels how much you inject your life into theirs. The challenge could be to even ask what kind of friend he believes you are. Request honesty and if they share, don’t be offended if it is not what you would have liked to hear. Likewise, if it is good, take that nugget and choose to enrich it, choose to be better at it, and choose to love that friend even more. If you are already a great friend in all areas, congratulations, you are in a group of people that is rare and tough to get into. Be proud of this and be authentic with your friends. You’ll be glad you did.