“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships and relationships and I’ve come to believe there’s a difference between the two.
On Facebook, we have a long list of people that we call friends yet we probably never communicate with the vast majority of them. A few days ago, someone posted their status on my home page and I thought, “Who are they???” Then, I realized that person is one of my “friends”. Obviously, it isn’t much of a friendship since I have no idea who she is.
I believe "friend" is a word that’s been cheapened through overuse. We tend to toss that word around casually and call people friends that we hardly ever talk to. I believe the reason for that is because we have a desire to belong and to be accepted. In our introvert promoting society, we tend to look at having many friends as defining our worth. As a result, introverts are made to feel like there’s something wrong with us because we tend to have few friends.
Proverbs 18:24 says “A man of many friends may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Friendships are meant to be deep. Friendship is a heart connection between two people that can’t be broken and the connection goes both ways. I believe a true friendship is mutual with both people working to develop and maintain it.
If only one person is making the effort, the relationship is one-sided and is not a real friendship in my opinion. That’s not to say, however, that we need to end those relationships. I believe one-sided relationships can have great value since they tend to keep us other people focused rather than ME focused. However, we need to understand that there is a difference between a friendship and a one-sided relationship. This is important to know in order to avoid being hurt or hurting others.
The problem with confusing a one sided relationship with a true friendship is that we begin to have expectations of the other person that they cannot or will not fill. Instead of accepting the relationship for what it is, we struggle to make it what we want it to be and we tend to develop a needs based relationship where we want the other person to meet our needs. The result is hurt and anger as we try to manipulate the other person to fit into the box we’ve created for them.
Jesus said that friends lay down their lives for each other and Proverbs says that a friend is close, sometimes closer than family members.
True friendship can only exist with a few people. I believe it’s impossible to have that depth of friendship with a lot of people. Developing friendships require time, thought and effort and, if we try to expand our friendships to include everyone we come in contact with, the results will be superficial relationships and a lot of frustration as we fail to live up to our promises.
Relationships are important and I value those people who have passed through my life, enriched it and then continued passing through. Others, however, have stayed to develop a heart connection and these are the friendships that I treasure.
To read more about friendships, check out this post by David Backus and one of my older post.