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?