Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Gift of Friendship


Friendship is one of the greatest gifts a human being can receive. It is a bond beyond common goals, common interests, or common histories. It is a bond stronger than sexual union can create, deeper than a shared fate can solidify, and even more intimate than the bonds of marriage or community. Friendship is being with the other in joy and sorrow, even when we cannot increase the joy or decrease the sorrow. It is a unity of souls that gives nobility and sincerity to love. Friendship makes all of life shine brightly. Blessed are those who lay down their lives for their friends. (from Henri Nouwen)

14 comments:

just joe said...

Pro 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Pro. 18:24 - A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Ecclesiastes 4:10 - If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!

ISA 41:8 - But you, O Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend,


John 15:14 - You are my friends if you do what I command.

Brian Emmet said...

Big diff between "friend" in the passages Joseph gave and "friending" someone on FB, twitter, etc., eh? And "friends with privileges" sexualizes a type of relationship that is inherently non-sexual. So what does the "practice" of friendship look like?

just joe said...

C. S. Lewis had some good things to say about "phileo" or friendship in his essay "The Four Loves." I am at the university at the moment and do not have it available to me, but I will look it up at home and post it. Basically, he says that friendship is the one kind of love that in inherently non-jealous and non-possessive ...

I learned rather late in life that friendships must be reciprocal and that proper boundaries are essential.

I find it pretty incredible that Abraham was God's "friend." What an awesome thought ...

John M. said...

"I learned rather late in life that friendships must be reciprocal and that proper boundaries are essential."

Me too. Still working on it!

Brian, true [your comments], unless you already have a "real" face-to-face friendship, then it's a great way to supplement the sometimes too infrequent times of face-to-face, and keep current and up-to-date, at least to some degree, with those friends. My impression of facebook is that there's a lot of that going on, and that bears out my personal experience as well.

Question. It seems that "brotherhood", including females, within the body of Christ is similar, if not synonomous with true friendship. What do you guys think? I am working on the same lessons above when it comes to brothers and sisters in Christ.

just joe said...

I don't think Christian brotherhood is the same as friendship ... otherwise, all Christian men (and women) would be my friends, and that just not the case.

Here is the quote from C.S. Lewis. It is The Four Loves, around the second page of the section on "Friendship"

Friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend. They can then say, as the blessed souls say in Dante, "Here comes one who will augment» loves." For in this love "to divide is not to take away." Of course the scarcity of kindred souls — not to mention practical considerations about the size of rooms and then audibility of voices — set limits to the enlargement of the circle; but within those limits we possess each friend not less but more as the number of those with whom we share increases. In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious "nearness by resemblance" to Heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest. That, says an old author, is why the Seraphim in Isaiah's vision are crying "Holy, Holy, Holy" to one another (Isaiah VI, 3) The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall all have.
Lewis, C.S. The Inspirational Writings of C.S. Lewis. New York: Inspirational Press, 1994, 246.

so...here is question, how many close friends do each of you have?

Brian Emmet said...

Good question. For example, I do consider you and John close friends, not because we see one another all that often, but because I feel that I could talk with you about anything, especially if I were in crisis. That was a convoluted way of saying that "friends" are the people you'd feel free to call in the middle of the night... just because you needed to talk--or needed to ask if they could do something for you, with a high expectation that they would say Yes.

Brian Emmet said...

John, not disagreeing or ignoring your comment: yes, social networking can be helpful... but the idea that I have 286 "friends" on fb denatures what friendship is about: no one can have 286 true friends... what do you think the upper limit is? Ten?

Dr. Sam said...

I looked up some quotes on friendship and so here they are:

“Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget.”

“A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.”

“To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.”

“Sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.”

“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together.. there is something you must always remember. you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. but the most important thing is, even if we're apart.. i'll always be with you.” kep21
Winnie the Pooh

“True friends stab you in the front.”
Oscar Wilde

“A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked”
Bernard Meltzer

“Friendship is a treasured gift, and every time I talk with you I feel as if I'm getting richer and richer”

“Friends are God's way of apologizing to us for our families.”

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one”
C.S. Lewis

“One measure of friendship consists not in the number of things friends can discuss, but in the number of things they need no longer mention.”
Clifton Fadiman

“Are you upset little friend? Have you been lying awake worrying? Well, don't worry...I'm here. The flood waters will recede, the famine will end, the sun will shine tomorrow, and I will always be here to take care of you. -Charlie Brown to Snoopy”

“True friendship comes when the silence between two people is comfortable.”
David Tyson Gentry

The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing... not healing, not curing... that is a friend who cares.”
Henri Nouwen

“It is by chance that we met, by choice that we became friends.”
“The difference between friendship and love is how much you can hurt each other”

“Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it's all over.”
Gloria Naylor

“A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails.”
Donna Roberts

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.
Anais Nin:

What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.
Aristotle:

just joe said...

I liked this one: “Friends are God's way of apologizing to us for our families.”

There was a recent book on the lives of U.S. Grant and William T. Sherman and their enduring friendship. When asked what was the secret to their friendship, Sherman said: "When Grant was drunk, I made sure he got home safe, and when I was depressed, he made sure I didn't commit suicide."

John M. said...

A recent Pew Study of those who use social media like Face Book yielded surprising results.

The researchers expected that those who were involved in digital networking would be more isolated from actual human contact. They found just the opposite.

"People who use social media have larger, more diverse 'discussion networks' -- groups of people with whom they share important issues -- than those who don't. And social media users tend to be more, rather than less, involved in their communities.

Social media users still tend to know just as many of their neighbors as non-users, and they are more, rather than less, likely to ber involvede in voluntary community groups, and much more likely to frequent social settings such as cafes and pullic parks."

When asked to give a list of names of people they considered to be especially significant in their lives, the social-media users had bigger lists.

Brian, this is not to make a counter-point to your comment, because I agree with you, but in light of this, and past discussions we've had, the article struck me as interesting.

Perhaps those of us on the blog bear out the study's conclusions to some degree. Brian, I'm not sure you could have said that you counted Joseph and me "good friends" before our time spent on this blog?

It would seem that, time spent on electronic media can actually enhance the quality of our face time when we actually get it.

Here's the link. If you go, you'll need to copy and paste. Sorry I couldn't get it to hyper-link.

http://www.kentucky.com/216/story/1089624.html#none

Brian Emmet said...

Loved the quotes, Dr. Sam--thanks! I liked Wilde's “True friends stab you in the front.”
Hey, that can be a good thing, not a bad thing!

John, thanks for the info on social networking and social relations. Hmmm, very interesting. I wonder if there are any age-related differences? Let me see if the article covered that...

John M. said...

The article didn't mention age. I think only users and non-users were compared. The article does give the name of the actual study. I didn't go look at it.

Brian your question earlier about the numerical upper limit for friends, set me to thinking.

I conducted a mental "friends" survey. I quickly realized that I can't lump all my friends into one catagory, there are too many layers of friendship.

I created several categories: best friends, really good friends, good friends, and friends.

"Best friends" have, "no secrets, longevity and history, common interests, can talk about anything, share common interests, add value to one another, can be called any time, etc. I counted three in this category, counting my wife.

I have fourteen "really good friends". This includes my four children and their three spouses. "Good friends" -- approximately ten. "Friends" -- too many to list.

There are other nuances that can be added such as "friends of friends, who have become friends", my friends' children, many of whom have become friends, former students, etc.

Bottom line. I am wealthy in that which money cannot buy, friends. But when it comes to the hightest gouping of friends they are few.

Joseph Holbrook said...

I have often thought that someone should do a sociological study of friendship.

anyway, there are only 3 of us in this converation. Brian, feel free to move us on to the next topic whenever you are ready.

Laurel Long said...

I have failed, miserably, at friendship. Currently, it is one of my devotional contemplatives. It seems that all the superlative relational and social organizations listed on the front page have been mercilessly exacting on my personal resources leaving no reserve for anything else but duty and, or faithfulness, to the very small group of people to whom Billy and I have brought into this world...or I am just a very bad candidate with whom to forge a friendship. Either way, I am sorry that I have not been able to do the sisterhood thing better.