What is a friend?

Last week seemed pretty negative on the idea of friendship, but I didn’t mean for it to be that way.  I know that many people have suffered from the strange and often cruel characteristics of friendships within legalist systems. 

But this week I want to do something different.  I believe that friends are among the most important blessings God has given us.  I understand why people want, even need, good friends.  But too many people are so broken and beat-up that they don’t know what a good friend looks like.

I have a few special friends.  There are a few people who have had a special connection with my heart over the years.  In them, I have found encouragement, companionship, and counsel.  But they are few, and that’s okay.

You see, there are many kinds of friends, I think.  This is my list and it may not even be complete in my thinking, but see what you think of it.

  • False friends – people who tell you they are friends so they can get something from you.  Usually these people like to call you “friend” and use the word “friend” a lot. 
  • Acquaintances – people who you know from work, church, the neighborhood, or whatever but you don’t really connect with.  You don’t know them well enough to know if they would be good friends.
  • Circumstantial friends – people with whom you connect under limited circumstances.  Perhaps a friend you have at work but never socialize with outside of work.  Perhaps someone from school from whom you have now drifted away.  These can be good friends, but the friendship ends or wanes because the circumstances change.  Moving away, getting married, changing jobs, ending a project, etc. 
  • Crisis friends – people who stand with you through a rough time, but may not stay connected beyond that time.  God sends these people for support when you really need someone and you are thankful, but it isn’t the kind of friendship that lasts, perhaps because you really don’t have a lot in common.  This is a type of circumstantial friend, but the relationship seems much deeper.
  • Special friends – people you could call once every five years and have a great, almost intimate, conversation.  Nothing has changed in the relationship during that time.  There are few expectations in this kind of relationship.  You might have lunch with this person every week, but you might not go to her with your problems.  Not because you couldn’t but because this is one person who loves you outside of your circumstances.  You are encouraged just by her presence, even by knowing she is there.  She might not come to you with her problems, but she knows she could and you would care.  You both know the other will be accepting, even glad to get together, no matter what is going on in the rest of the world.

Obviously, all of these are good to have in our lives (except false friends) and we are blest in the differences of these relationships.  We are not made to walk alone.  It’s okay to admit that we need others.  But one of the most important keys to friendship is understanding and accepting the limits of expectations.  Good friends accept you and love you and respect your boundaries.  They don’t have high expectations of you.  There is something about you they love and you might never really know what it is (nor, perhaps, do they), but you feel that love.

Let’s talk more about friendship this week!  What are your thoughts on this list?

3 Comments

Filed under Legalism, Relationship

3 responses to “What is a friend?

  1. Kelly

    I had a friendship funeral last Friday. It was hard. I even got sick and vomited from being upset. I had this friend who was my next door neighbor for years. I KNEW she was NOT a safe person despite saying she was a Christian. She would scold me and insult me and then turn around and act like I was her best friend. I now think this was yet another NPD, but I am not sure. I don’t want to use that for everyone if they aren’t of course. Anyway she was due to be my matron of honor in 4 weeks. Dave, I fired her. I knew she would ruin my wedding day with her caustic judgemental remarks and criticisms. She was raised in the legalistic system. I wish I would have let her go ALONG time ago. I guess I didn’t want to see it -until she got on my FB page Friday morning and made rude remarks then messaged me half a dozen times with criticim of posts I made she insulted my fiance’ as well. I realized how most all my relationships were broken and sick because I had been too. This was literally the last person from that season of my life. Standing up in my divorce enabled me to stand up to her and say “NO, not anymore, you may not treat me this way and have me your life,.it’s over.” I have a million degree mercy personality and it was HARD. But I know now my friendships I have are very healthy…they are the go the distance ones where expectations are minimal if any. I would like to know if other people have had to have some real clean-outs as well?

    • Kelly, it is amazing how long we carry this need to be accepted by the legalists in our lives. I guess that is programmed deeply into us. Perhaps it’s because we were raised to want to be acceptable. Please don’t beat yourself for wanting this relationship to work out differently.

      You have shown a great strength. And you will be glad you did it. The guilt feelings are from the enemy and you will have to move past them. Same with the anger. Anger gives us strength to do what we need to do, but we can’t live there. You did the right thing and you have a right to be thankful for the fortitude to do it.

      One more thing: you are not responsible for whatever feelings she may have. She has already shown that her hurt comes from losing what she wanted from you. That’s where her anger is coming from. In spite of the fact that it just hurts you more to see the truth so blatantly on FB, there is a certain affirmation in it. This is not a safe person for you.

  2. Kelly

    Dave thank you so much I really appreciate you 🙂

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