What is friendship?
What is the purpose of it?
No, seriously, I’m not being profound… I just find myself asking that question a lot lately and discussing with Daniel on why it is so difficult. Many good things are difficult, but maybe friendship is so hard because people don’t know how to define it?
I think the meaning must look different to everyone, and I think some people must hit closer to the genuine mark than others.
To me, friendship is something meant to be holy. Further still, it is for God as much as it is given by God.
Daniel wisely said that it is a mirror to our relationship to God and that it is meant to encourage us in our friendship with Him. If I look back on Daniel’s life, I see that it is because of a friendship that my husband was brought closer to God through the Catholic Church, and, like dominoes, I was brought in through that friend too, because of his strong friendship with my husband. Friendship and love — they are supposed to point us to Christ, right?
Just like our marriage is supposed to reflect Christ and His Church. And just like the marriages in our culture, why aren’t our friendships holy a lot of the time?
Maybe it is the fact that people don’t know what a friendship really is. Maybe it’s that the counterfeit is so much easier, more attainable, and more fun at times, just like how our culture often chooses shallow sex lives over a meaningful marriage.
One is easy. It requires little sacrifice. Instant gratification is what comes out of that relationship oven.
The other demands work. Keeping up maintenance. Truckloads of sacrifice. And you can’t do it successfully without having patience and compassion.
You could be speaking of either friendships or romantic relationships in those attributes.
I’ve had people tell me that friendship means being able to go over to somebody’s house without knocking, root around in their fridge, and grab themselves a coke without asking. I’ve had other people tell me that friendship means being loyal in all ways, including the all powerful internet. If I follow you on social media, you follow me, and you automatically want to see all my posts of nothingness. I’ve had people tell me that friendship means you’re always on each other’s sides even if something seems wrong — you stick it out and encourage your friend. A few people I’ve crossed paths with are more concerned with the appearance of friendship than actual friendship.
None of those things add up to a true and holy friendship… how could it? How is rooting around in your fridge and grabbing myself a dr. pepper going to point you to Christ? How is “liking” a meaningless bragging photo meant only to flaunt going to do anything but stroke your ego? How is dishonesty about my wrongdoing going to help me to grow in virtue? And how is appearing to be friends via that well timed thank-you note going to influence my life in a holy way?
So in addition to being holy, sacred, and honest, we’re establishing that true friendship requires a lot of responsibility!
Maybe that’s the reason that many people choose those superficial relationships where friendship literally means Cheetos out of the cabinet.
But is choosing the “easiest” and most “instantly gratifying” option really what we want? Do we honestly feel better and like our life is meaningful? Do we care about that at all or are we happy sitting on our couches living in a virtual world where feelings are as deep as a “thumbs up” or a “heart emoji?”
I guess it does come down to what people want in their friendships. Even deeper still, what do people really want out of their lives? After all, we have the freedom to choose.
I like Cheetos and soda… I do! And I like receiving thank-you notes. I like to “like” your photos on occasion. And I like to be on your side! But none of those things make it into the definition of friendship, and none of those things are going to help you or me down our road to sainthood. Is heaven real to you?
It is to me.
Is God real to you?
He is to me.
What do you want out of your life?
I want sanctification. I want to be with our Lord, and I want you to be there with me.
Let’s make true, valuable, and lasting friendships. Let’s love each other with honesty and patience, and let’s take responsibility for ourselves and each other! Let’s be sheep in the same pasture and not lead each other astray, but instead, let’s let ourselves be shepherded by our God through each other.
Let’s be real friends, and if we’re not real friends, let’s stop lying about it and wasting each other’s time. There’s just too much at stake to not take it seriously anymore, for you or for me.