Friday, 20 February 2015

Friendship {Part 1 - who ARE friends, anyway?}

I have been thinking about writing about friendship for a long time. So, today, I am going to begin a long-thought-about "series" on friendship. No promises about how long it will be, or when it will finish, but I think it's something worth considering.

It's a subject that you hear about SO much these days.


"Friends" on Facebook.

They are catchy titles that fly about with great regularity.

Someone suggested to me, a while ago, that "friends" on Facebook are not REAL friends.  You don't know them IRL (in real life, for those who are NOT up-to-date on such lingo...), so they can't be "real".

Then there are BFFs.  I actually had to look this up to get it right, because it's one of these "popular" phrases of the trendy, of which I am not.  I thought it meant "best female friend". Goes to show how much *I* know about it.  It means "best friends forever".  Now I know.

So, what IS friendship?  It is quite a subjective term, in many ways.  One person may classify a friend in one way, and someone else my consider it differently.

Well, according to the Oxford dictionary, it's

"a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations."

If you are someone who wants to define it in an official capacity, then your husband isn't your friend, and you can't be friends with  your family.

I have a problem with both of those premises.

For me, my husband is my BEST friend.

I know, for some, that's not the case.  I find that sad for a few reasons.  I find it sad because there is obviously a lack of "mutual affection". Affection is being fond of someone, or liking them. How can one NOT be fond of their spouse, or feel affection toward them? I guess if you have an arranged marriage, then things could be lacking in mutual affection.  That can be remedied, I suppose, if  you set your mind to it.

I would suggest, in an ideal situation, that the first level of connection you should have with your spouse IS friendship.  A serious relationship should BEGIN with mutual affection.  When we give guidance to our children about looking to marriage, it's the starting point that we would assert to be the best one.  You begin as friends. It may be that you seek someone with the design that they be  your spouse, or it may be someone you meet through the course of life.  Either way, you begin with making a connection on the grounds of commonality.  You both have the same interests.  You both have the same ambitions. You both have the same desires.  You both have the same goals. You both have the same beliefs and convictions. How can a marriage even be considered unless all of this is true?  You have no foundation for a good marriage, if friendship doesn't start first.  I would guess thaat, although I have no proof for it, other than what I have witnessed for myself, the marriages that last begin with friendship.

If you say your husband is not your best friend, I think it's ultimately a reflection of either a lack of commonality when the marriage was initiated, or a lack of effort to maintain it AFTER marriage.  Both of these situations are sad, and I feel a deep sense of pity for those who are in such a situation.

I would also say that my husband IS my best friend, BECAUSE of the added intimacy marriage affords.  Not only are you connected as friends, with mutual affection for each other and desires that are in union, but you are close in a physical and loving sense.  That combination, for me, makes him the best friend I could possibly have, because he gives me more than any other friend could POSSIBLY give! What a joy, and blessing!  Look no further than Song of Solomon, for a proof.

"he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem."
Song of Solomon 5:16

As for not being friends with your family?  Again, I don't agree.

Friendship is about having a bond, and a mutual affection.  True, family is defined by the bond you have by blood, or by adoption.  However, friendship is something that goes BEYOND that, because mutual affection is something you can have WITHIN it! Without a doubt, I count my family members as some of my closest friends. Family both by birth, and by marriage.  To me, it's a sign that your family connection is deeper than a title of "sister", or "sister-in-law", or "mother" (males included, but I'm not listing EVERY family title!!) .  Family is a bond that is like no other, but family who are ALSO your friends indicates a depth of relationship that goes beyond blood ties. It's a privilege to count a family member as a friend.

So, how DO you define a friend?

If you have a mutual affection for each other, it must stem from knowing them well enough to have affection at all.  It presupposes that you have spent time getting to know the other person, and finding out what they are like.  How do they think?  How do they behave?  What do they like?  What do they love?  Then, based upon that knowledge, you build that mutual affection for each other, which leads to true friendship.

In times past, as well as in the present, friendship was most commonly established through the contact you had with people on day to day basis.  The people in your community, the place where you worked, the activities you are involved with, or those you met with day by day, were all potential "candidates" for friendship. In other words, you had to have SOME kind of contact with them in the first place, in order to begin a friendship.

Back to my "Facebook friends aren't real" statement.

(Not mine, I add.)

If a friend is someone who you have a bond of mutual affection with, knowing them in person, or meeting them physically, isn't necessary. Now, I want to add I can UNDERSTAND people's leeriness about establishing a friendship "virtually".  People can be whoever they want to be online.  I have known people who I have first met online, who I end up meeting in person, and they are NOT the person they portray on the Internet. That's not always a bad thing, I add, but often it's a huge surprise.  Those quiet online, can be chatty in person.  Those quite vocal online, can be unbelievably quiet in person.  People can come across quite normal in the world wide web, but be quite odd in person.  Undeniably, all this is true. You can't dismiss the fact that many ARE very real online, because some are not.  As with anything, you use discernment, wisdom and common sense, to establish whether someone is truly a "friend", or just an "acquaintance".  If you DO ever meet them in real life, and they are not what you expected, you can take things from there!

Undoubtedly, many of my Facebook "friends" are not really friends.  I don't particularly like the generalisation, but, hey, "acquaintances through some tenable virtual connection" doesn't have quite the same ring to it, right?  They are simply those who you have made a connection with, in some way or another.

But, without a shadow of a little doubt, true friendships can definitely be made online.  I have met some wonderful people online, more specifically, on Facebook, who have become incredibly good, and close, friends.  People with whom I have made an initial connection through things we have in common, and who, by further communication and effort, have become those with whom I share "mutual affection". I'm not going to go into the detail in this post, because it's the things I want to deal with as I look at friendship, but those ladies fit the criteria and characteristics I would count as those you would expect of a friend.. (And yes, "ladies" -  as I will expound in another post, I don't pursue friendship with men.  More to come on that subject.)  There have been those with whom the connection just "clicked" pretty quickly, and others with whom I have grown closer to, as the affection has grown from getting to know each other better.  I value them as a treasure, and I am thankful to God for them.   Many of them I may never meet this side of heaven.  I have the knowledge that they are a blessing to me now, and that we will meet "On the other side".  Some I have had the great joy and delight of meeting in person, having made the connection online first. Getting to meet them has only deepened the affection.  Many I hope to meet in person some day.  Due to the fact that the Atlantic Ocean separates us, it's not that likely.  I can live in hope, though, can't I?

I don't rank my friendships in quality according to where they exist - in person, or virtually. They are all unique, but that is because of the beautiful and individual personalities of each friend.  It's also not about how much time I spend with them - it's quality, not quantity.  Most of my friends, due to my location and busy life, are those with whom I don't get to spend a lot of time with - in real life, or online.  My main priority is my family, and I simply can't talk online all day, or always be off visiting friends, or having them come here. I'd never get anything done! But, those friends I DO have, continue to build that "mutual affection" whenever we are in contact. The time lapse between contact doesn't lessen the friendship, because that affection doesn't go away.

I am SO thankful to God for my friends.  I am a very sociable person, and the Lord knows how much I need them, and the value they add to my life. I would go stir crazy without them! I'm not someone who has a lot of friends with a shallow connection.  The friends I have I love, and love deeply.  I don't make friendships quickly, but similarly, I don't break them easily or lightly. So long as that mutual affection remains, built upon the truths that I will go on to explain, in further posts, you will be my friend for life.

So, who are YOUR friends? Thank God for them, because they are a gift from Him.

I hope you are as blessed as I am, and if you are not, I pray that the Lord blesses you, too.



  1. This speaks or me this morning.
    We are on our way to my brothers induction to be a minister and he still works with and is friends with a couple who walked out of our friendship when we decided to have John and risk CF.
    I find it very hard I still love the family very much.

  2. My wife and I remind each other (almost daily) that we're best friends. It's synonymous to saying "I love you, and there's nothing I want more than to spend time with you." For us, it's the truth. Thanks for the great reminder!

  3. I really enjoyed reading this. My husband is my BFF! It rocks, i think it's like having a sleepover every night, because we get to talk and laugh after light are out. And I can relate to having many different kinds of friendships, that I equally value. The best for me is that as Christians, we can experience that spiritual bond with our friends too. I had a friend over this week and we hadn't seen each other for a while, but we could just pick up where we left off. Ironically we live 10 minutes walk from each other! Modern life can be bizarre, but still ok. I love to pray with friends, not quite there with the singing psalms together, although I would love that. Maybe I should just try it next time! :-)))

  4. This is a very pertinent topic for me right now since my family moved from the East coast of the US to the West coast this past Summer. I am still trying to establish friendships where we live now-and it is challenging. I appreciate my friends who I can interact with on Facebook because they are available no matter where I live and most I know in real life. I love your discussion of marriage starting in friendship. That was the case for my husband and me, and it does help us through the rough patches.