Friendship has been a topic of discussion around our house lately. Brooklyn has been trying to identify the difference between a good friend and a not so good friend. She is learning that her thoughts, ideas, and emotions are important. She is learning that she can be vulnerable in sharing herself with others. Dawson, well, he thinks everyone is his friend. This got me thinking about friendship for Desiree and I as thirty-something married adults with children. What is the difference between having a friend and having a friendship?
A friendship is something that is slowly developed over a period of time. It’s a sculpture of sorts that requires the work of two people. There must be a foundation crafted with trust and acceptance. The structure that is placed on the foundation is fashioned by vulnerability, openness, and fairness. The result of these elements melding together is a beautiful, unending tapestry of sharing, laughter, and love.
The love is unconditional. Distance, circumstance, or other people cannot weaken the stronghold of love in a friendship. A loving friendship implies that one can be honest without fear of rejection. A loving friendship implies that there is a mutual respect and support for the interest and success of each other.
I am disappointed when any one of these characteristics fails in a friendship. I understand that we cannot always be a great friend in a friendship. It is just disappointing when I have believed I could count on someone and trust that person, but then the realization occurs that there is more talk than there is action. In other words, it’s is easy to talk about a friendship but it’s challenging to maintain the depth to truly participate in a friendship.
At times I have made myself vulnerable in a friendship only to fall flat on my face in humiliation. At times I have been in friendships that are not mutual leading to bitterness and misunderstanding. At times I feel extremely lonely when the friendships I am a part of are conditional. I am disappointed in a friendship when one person can only make time if it is convenient. Now don’t get me wrong, I know that there are times when all of these things happen due to circumstance, but there have been times when I have been in most need, even dire straits, and the friend who claimed we had a strong friendship was nowhere to be found. Sounds like I am having a pity party today, doesn’t it? Not really, I am comfortable with who I am and I do believe that I am a good friend in a friendship. I guess I am using this blog to process my thoughts on this sometimes frustrating (to me) topic.
So often I hear my friends say, “Hmmm, I wonder what Jesus would do?” I don’t claim to know what Jesus would do because I can’t begin to comprehend what a person with Divine Grace thought or is thinking. I do know that Jesus loves unconditionally, that is proven. I do know that Jesus is not judgmental, that is proven. I do know that Jesus wants us to love one another because that is the ingredient that God gave everyone of us as the foundation of our core being, that is proven. Anything done with love will never fail.
I have two friendships in my life that are built on a solid foundation. The first is my friendship with Jesus Christ. The second is my friendship with Desiree, my wife. In my willingness to build friendships with my friends, I attempt to follow the effective model of friendship I participate in with Jesus and Desiree. I will listen with an open mind and not pass judgment. I will love my friend unconditionally and accept the good, the bad, and the ugly. I will also give generously of myself in building friendships.
I have lots of friends. I have few friendships. Friendships are beautiful, but are a challenge to build and maintain. Anything worth having, anyone worth loving, takes hard work and generous time. I will find strength in the unconditional love that Jesus so generously gives me. I will find strength in the trust and compassion that I share with Desiree. Brooklyn, Dawson, Faith, and Hope will learn the connection between friends and friendships as they grow in the relationship with Jesus and as they watch the friendship of Desiree and I unfold before their very eyes every day.