Are you confusing acquaintances with friends? It may be affecting how you spend your time, how you feel about yourself and them, as well as how often you are disappointed. It is said that a friend is closer than a brother in the Bible. After the last few weeks I can relate to that verse on many levels. Often our extended family may be busy with their own lives, live far away, or not understand who we are as adults, while those who choose to know us, those who choose to be our friends, have made the choice to spend time with us and to form a relationship.
Friendship requires time together. To build friendships a priority must be placed on finding time to grow it. You can meet an acquaintance once or twice at work, social gatherings, or at the store, and speak kindly and perhaps greet one another, but to become friends you have to go deeper than a greeting, spend time together, and risk being known and to know them.
Friendship requires trust. You can speak to folks you barely know all day long, but to begin to share your thoughts, feelings, experiences and history with someone new takes trust. In new friendships the first rounds of transitioning from acquaintances to friends involve finding out a person’s core beliefs, how they handle life, what that are made of. Sometimes when you get to know a well thought of acquaintance you find their lifestyle shoe doesn’t fit when you get to know them more personally.
Friendships are not dependent upon age. Many friendships are cross generational. We may share common interests, hobbies, values, or goals in life. Some of the sweetest friendships I’ve personally have had been with the octogenarians at my former town who have known me for over forty years. There is much value in a sixty year old friendship such as my father has with a friend from church. They’ve shared the same seats next to each other in men’s choir for decades now. Can you imagine the strength of such a friendship? The perspectives they have of each other as humans, as friends, as men?
Friendship requires commitment. It’s not always convenient to be friends, but when we agree to be friends with someone we are engaging in a relationship. Relationships require both parties to put out effort to work together, communicate, and play When difficult times come, you are there to offer a hand or a listening ear. You become a support system for each other. You empower each other by your presence in all areas of your life. A true friend is rare, and important to take care of. To choose to love another person and to stand by them as chosen family is a commitment that affirms all that is good in the world.
Friendships grow us. When we are in relationship with other people we grow. When we allow ourselves to be transparent with our friends, we allow each other the gift of sharing honestly that which we do well and those areas we need to grow. Friendship is not a “DIY” project for self improvement, but by the nature of its relationship, friendship in its strongest form, accepts us where we are while encouraging us to become more.
This week I challenge you to think about your relationships. Are you considering acquaintances as friends? Have you begun to dismiss the differences between those you have committed friendships to and those you barely know? Have you taken time to think about the relationships in your daily life? Who are your true friends, who are the friends you perhaps haven’t considered are as meaningful as they are. Friendships take time to develop, maybe it is time to put more effort into yours!