What it Means to be a Friend
Last week I told you that you can’t change the world.
It doesn’t matter how right you are. It doesn’t matter how much money you have. It doesn’t matter how eloquent or beautiful you are. You can’t change people.
But you can choose to be somebody’s friend.
The kind of friendship that matters is about selfless, sacrificial love. And I believe that is the only thing it is about. Love.
Today we talk about you being that type of friend.
1. Friendship means showing up.
We don’t make act like friends from the comfort of our living rooms or the privacy of our beds. We act like a friend when we go where our friends our. Friendship needs contact. Friendship needs seeing people and problems and needs first hand. Even when it is inconvenient. Especially when it could be dangerous and uncomfortable.
2. Friendship means radical acceptance.
No conditions. No termination clauses. Only open arms. As long as something stands between you and another your friendship is limited. There will always be a wall keeping distance between you. Radical acceptance means letting go of all of your expectations of another. True friends are friends no matter how you feel about how they choose to live or what they choose to do.
3. Friendship means participating in their life.
To be a friend you have to know a person. It means listening. It means studying. It means doing the hard work of knowing. You can’t know someone by knowing their address or their phone number or by seeing their picture on the internet. The only way to be a friend is to learn who they really are.
4. Friendship means giving sacrificially.
We give gifts at birthdays and Christmas, but rarely is it a sacrifice. Sacrifice by definition means that it hurts. You feel it. To give sacrificially you will have to let go of something. You give without expecting anything in return. Maybe something you own. Maybe your own comfort. Maybe your pride. Maybe your life.
5. Friendship means letting someone take advantage of you.
I hate being taken advantage of. But loving and being a friend requires making yourself vulnerable. When you radically accept people and give to them sacrificially, at some point they will hurt you. They will disappoint you. It is the nature of people. It is the way of the world. The question isn’t whether or not it will happen, but whether or not you will still love that person when it does happen.
6. Friendship means taking on problems that are not yours.
Our culture is littered with phrases like, “Not my problem,” or “That isn’t in my job description.” Being a friend means making someone else’s problems ours. It means doing the work for the good of someone else, especially when we don’t have to.
7. Friendship means committing to the long run.
Just because you show up and give and do the hard things doesn’t mean someone will return the friendship. All you can do is be this type of friend and then wait. It takes time and effort for a friendship to mature. It won’t happen over night. Their is no love at first sight. Their is only love after giving and giving over a long period of time.
Loving and being a friend isn’t about what you should or shouldn’t do. It is an opportunity. An chance to do more. A moment to make a difference.
Being a friend is hard. It demands letting go of the self and saying yes to someone else. It isn’t fun. Nobody will give you a medal for doing it.
But it is a choice any of us can make.
Have you known this type of friendship?
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