We all need more friends…
On the long path of life,
we will need,
on the long path of life,
we should be,
when we see each other as travelers,
let’s see each other as friends.
Understanding the science of friendship is cold comfort when you need a shoulder to cry on or an ear to bend. Or simply a new set of shared experiences that can bring simple or deeper joys; a IRL or Zoom chat over coffee; a text or social media exchange that breaks up the day, or a shared meal with presence as the main course.
Knowing the techniques of making friends is helpful but time, family demands and our emotional-psychological baggage can inhibit expanding our circles of connection. Making the effort is often too much of an effort and we take the easy path of why bother. Being intentional is easier said than done.
The political and hyper-partisan years preceding the Covid-19 pandemic stretched many, many threads of the social fabric. Many of those family and friends threads broke hard. Then the Covid-19 restrictions exacerbated feelings of loneliness and isolation further. As life in 2021 is beginning to return to normal (thank you vaccines!), it is an opportunity to consider changing mindset and practices. David French’s recent post on Lost Friendships Break Hearts and Nations expands on this eloquently and should encourage us to change.
Unfortunately, for many reasons I am working through, my mindset toward friendship was dismissive. It should not have been.
Especially given my Christ-Follower posture. The person of Jesus, regardless of your view of him as deity or not, modeled loving friendship as no one else ever did. His words, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” set the highest bar but his examples spoke as powerfully.
His friendship with women broke new ground in the dynamics between men and women during an age when females were mere property. His friendship with his disciples, who turned out to be terrible friends who abandoned Him at the worst possible moment, endured literally beyond the grave. One so called friend sold him out to his enemies yet Jesus still broke bread with him knowing this in advance.
The recent high-quality non-cheesy faith-based film series The Chosen depicts a Jesus that most people would want as a friend. Someone who smiles, cares, is at ease, non-judgmental and makes friends with all kinds of people, especially people left out; left out of power, privilege and high-society. He made friends with sex workers, tax collectors, bar owners, poor people, oppressed people, you know the 99% of us who don’t make the news and are simply grinding our way through life. People who history will forget but who he never will. We need a friend like him.
I should be more like that. We should all be more like that.