Friendship: A Definition
It's a pretty epic task to be the Friendsday Wednesday post during FriendsGiving Week! My niece Jessica is another proud Ragin' Cajun Catholic grad, taking the world by storm. I hope you enjoy what Jessica has to share with us about what is and is not Friendship. Seriously--how am I so blessed to have so many incredible friends willing to share beauty and truth with you?
Have a great week, Friends,
A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter: he that has found one has found a treasure. There is nothing so precious as a faithful friend, and no scales can measure his excellence.
I could talk about my friends all day long. Seriously. I’ve been very fortunate to have had some of the most life-giving, joyful, and authentic friendships in my lifetime. When I moved to Lafayette for college, I had, and still have, zero family members who lived here. The longing for good and wholesome friendships is ingrained in who we are. Even Jesus had his Squad.
Today “friendships” are counted in the thousands. Just look at your Facebook profile. I’m willing to bet that no one reading this would consider every single person on their social media profiles to be their actual friends.
So what really constitutes a friend? I think everyone on the planet has a different definition of what a friend is to them, but I think the book of Sirach phrases it perfectly: a treasure.
So how do we know when we have found treasure? How can we identify people that might shine like gold, but whose motives might be counterfeit? I’m not sure there is a science to friendship, but there are certainly important things to keep in mind.
The people we surround ourselves with should bring an added joy in our lives. Their traits, quirks and views should add something special to our lives that otherwise would not be there. I cannot tell you how many times in my time in Youth Ministry or as being a big sister I have heard people desperately hang on to “friends” that they don’t enjoy spending time with. Our lives are too short to be drained by those we actively choose to be surrounded by. I don’t think every encounter with each friend you have should feel like a trip to Disney World—but I do think they should bring light into your life, not darkness.
I’ll just let Brené Brown (my hero!) explain this one for me. “Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: "Who has earned the right to hear my story?" If we have one or two people in our lives who can sit with us and hold space for our shame stories, and love us for our strengths and struggles, we are incredibly lucky. If we have a friend, or small group of friends, or family who embraces our imperfections, vulnerabilities, and power, and fills us with a sense of belonging, we are incredibly lucky.”
It’s not often you hear people say, “I wish I were surrounded by several clones of myself.” Friendships are a celebration of the actual image and likeness of God. How wonderful is it to peer into the life of a creative artist, a financial planner, a teacher and a super loud business development manager ;) and know that they’re all made in the image of our Creator? We should celebrate both our commonalities and our differences. It’s through them both that we can enjoy one another.
I had a teacher my senior year of high school that said we have the choice to surround ourselves with elevators or suppressors, but the choice is ours. I have held onto that simple notion for a long time when meeting new people and forming new relationships. Friends should be challenging us to be the best version of ourselves. It is through encouragement, accountability, charity, and humility that we will form good and lasting friendships.
I’m not talking cash money. Freedom is integral in forming and maintaining friendships. If the Lord gives us the freedom to come as we are to Him, shouldn’t we offer that same sentiment to those we want in our lives? Humans mess up. Humans are imperfect. Humans aren’t always great at answering texts and giving ideal advice. Authentic friendships should be centered around coming together not out of obligation, but through an active desired choice.
Friendship is not...
We like to be needed. And we are needy. However, a should not be the fuel in a friendship. The hardest thing I ever had to explore was the concept of "What do you mean I shouldn’t be the sole comforter?” “No one else understands them.” You should not lose who you are in order to take care of someone else. Unless you have a degree, you should not try to act as your friend’s counselor.
This goes back to my point about freedom. Guilt is not a virtue of friendship. Forcing yourself to spend time with someone or pretending you enjoy your time with them fosters lying to oneself or lying to someone else. Lies have never fostered good and healthy friendships.
I’m terrible at this. I am very competitive not outwardly, but inwardly. The list goes on and on. Using a person as your yardstick of success or growth is just that: use. Comparison is the thief of joy—and joy is essential in companionship.
I often find myself forgetting this notion. Most of the time we prefer comfort over change. Instead of longing for the past, we can embrace the present and enjoy one another more intentionally. Friendships change and evolve all the time. We must decide for ourselves how we handle it.
One point for texting me. Two points for calling me. Three points for giving me their leftovers. It’s a bad habit to assign ranks to the actions of our friends. When they do something, they gain points. When they forget to do something or do something we don’t like, they lose points. Love and companionship is not fantasy football. We don’t bench someone in our lives if they’re going through a hard time. Mercy, humility, honesty, mutual-respect are what form genuine bonds with those we love.
Some of my favorite saints to look to for a model of friendship are St. Basil and St. Gregory. Their friendship wasn’t perfect (I’d imagine some pretty big personalities there), it was authentic and rooted in getting one another to heaven. Now they even share a feast day…if that’s not #SquadGoals I’m not sure what is. May we pray today for those friends of ours who lead us to goodness and truth freely and through great joy.
Jessica Clark is a twenty-something who's only sure about life requiring lots of laughter. She makes the rest up as she goes. When she's not managing Business Development at Russo (a strategic branding and communications firm based out of Lafayette *hair flip*), you can find her on IG: jholcombeclark or Twitter: jessicaholcombe.
P.S. Who's YOUR Buddy?