This is the age of Facebook where the word “friend” has been diluted to mean “anybody you might have encountered and do not want to bother ignoring or blocking out of your life”. Many teens have hundreds or even thousands of so-called friends, and yet we all know that very few of these multitudes of Facebook “friends” are truly friends at all. It is a fact of life that, when we use a word excessively, the meaning and depth of that word often becomes so diluted as to eventually mean nothing at all. Tell everyone you know that you “love” them and see how much you “loving” someone will eventually mean. Call everyone from the janitor to the head of state a “genius” and you will soon discover that this word coming from you means very little indeed. Such may be the eventual fate of the word “friend” in the age of Facebook. I assume people will resort to adding adjectives in front of the word to breathe life back into its meaning. One person will be my “very best” friend and the other will be a “good” friend. Despite such efforts, the bottom line will still be that the depth, meaning, and power of the word “friend” will be permanently harmed.
A very popular internet term is BFF, meaning Best Friend Forever. This term seems to be most often used by young girls and, in the spirit of internet dilution, usually means one’s closest friend for the time being. In full disclosure, I have had about 10 real friends in my life, with about half of these the “good” variety. While I respect and appreciate the power of having good friendships, I have never felt it necessary, wise, or even very useful to rely too much on friendships. Everyday we see examples of what foolishly relying on so-called friends can lead to. Misplaced confidence and trust, manipulation, betrayal, jealousy, resentment, and all manner of sins can ensue from blindly choosing and maintaining toxic relationships including poorly chosen friends. Ultimately, choosing friends in a flippant way is no better or any less irresponsible to our integrity and self-interest than jumping into relationships with every other person we meet. I know people who seem to always define themselves by their friends, in number or otherwise. Many of these people treat their friends much better than they treat their own family, often preferring and favoring their friends over parents and siblings.
At the end of the day, we will find that, while having friendships can be a healthy and positive life experience, the healthier and stronger we are, the less we will rely on and need friendships to define us. Furthermore, we should be selective and judicious in choosing and maintaining our friendships. One or two excellent friends are much more valuable than 100 flimsy, poorly chosen friendships. Quality over quantity should always be our philosophy in this as in most areas.
The importance of using discretion in choosing friends and carefully selecting only high quality friends is one thing, but one must also develop the qualities of being a good friend as well. Loyalty, discretion, trust, service, unselfishness, communication, and consistency from all parties involved seem to be good signs of a constructive, healthy friendship. One final sign of a good friendship is a realistic acceptance of the other and oneself. Placing too high or unreasonable expectations on a friendship or using that friendship merely to serve one’s interests and agenda is obviously destructive to any friendship. Likewise, we must remember that our human friendships are just that, human, and therefore susceptible to all of the weaknesses which we humans can possess. In simple terms, human friendships can only take us so far and, by definition, can never truly be our best friendships. That being said, what friendship should be our priority?
Obviously, given the title and theme of this blog, our friendship with God should be our primary and by far our most important relationship. None of the human weaknesses and liabilities will ever be present from God’s end of the relationship. He will always have our best interests, in the form of our salvation and everything and anything that leads to that goal, first and foremost. The main variable here will, of course, be what kind of friend we are to our Lord. Will we be loyal, discrete, trusting, offer service in His Name, unselfish, consistent, and seeking to maintain communication with Him? Will we be patient with ourselves and others as well as with His Will in the process? Simply put, how important is our friendship with God Almighty and do we show that importance in our daily lives?
Apart from all of the modern rhetoric and internet distortions of what true friendship means, we must develop and foster a profound friendship with God and make the Lord our Best Friend Forever simply because, whether we believe it or not, deserve it or not, and seek it or not, He is.
Copyright, 2011 Gabriel Garnica