Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote: ?There is nothing on this earth to be prized more than true friendship.? And I deeply echo his words. True friendship is beautiful, sweet and fulfilling.
Friendship is a relationship between two or more people who care about each other. But such a dry definition doesn?t do the concept of friendship justice.
Consider these examples: A friend is the first person you want to call immediately when you hear good news or bad news. A friend is someone you can spend time with in person or on the phone for hours?and there will always be something to talk about. A friend remembers that you don?t like long queues, or that your favourite sandwich is ham and cheese.
When a true friend accompanies you to the most boring of places it can become fun. A friend is also someone with whom you can spend time without saying anything, yet come back fulfilled. A friend allows you to let you be you. A friend prays for you.
In other words, friendship is wonderful, and much ink has been spilled in citing the virtues of having friends.
That?s not to say friendship is easy, though. It demands time and effort, and it requires that sometimes we put someone other than ourselves first.
But in exchange for that work, a friend can provide an immense amount of support and comfort in good times and in bad. When your spirit is disturbed by circumstances and you share this with your friend, even though the circumstances are still the same, somehow your spirit is renewed.
Friendship, as the anonymous quote has it, ?is when people know all about you but like you anyway?.
But friendship does not always have to go with warm and fuzzy feelings; it can require real frank and open talk, but always for the good of the friend.
Why are friendships sometimes not easy? Because, at times, we put ourselves first, for example when we insist that ?we?ll do things my way?.
We bring ourselves?our insecurities, our jealousies, our expectations, our own ways of doing?into the friendship. And when these expectations are not met or when our insecurity and jealousy get the better of us, things can go pear-shaped.
This is when we say things like ?You?re such a cruel person?, or ?You invited him, but not me?, or ?So I?m always the bad guy?, or ?You just know me when you need something from me?.
Yes, we do disappoint one another, and when we are disappointed we hurt each other, quite easily.
At school or university we never really learn how to handle friendships. It seems to just happen naturally and we figure it out as we go along?not always successfully.
But Jesus calls us his friends and all we need to know from being a true friend lies within his way of being friend. He does not dominate us, or treat us like slaves, or label and judge us, or envy or doubt us. He loves us unconditionally and accepts us as we are. He wants to be with us intimately and make us the best we can be.
He lets us be free. When we fall, he is beside us to help us up again.
Christ is in the centre of all our friendships. All our friendships and relationships must be based in him. Our friendships come from him?our relationship with one another comes from our relationship with him.
When Christ is at the centre of our friendships, it is not us who make the friendship work, but him through us. If we think it is us and we depend only on ourselves for the success of the friendship, never acknowledging nor even speaking about Christ and his love for us, then we will reap the negative rewards of such a friendship in very painful ways.
Friendships and relationships do break up, for whatever reason, and sometimes we can redeem the friendship and sometimes we can?t. But because we share our friendships in Christ, we are always connected to our friends, and we can enjoy a deeper friendship with them, beyond separation and even beyond death.
The only necessary thing for us to do is to pray for our friends.