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What's a Friend?

by Gerald E Greene

posted in Self Improvement

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One dictionary says, "A person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard."
I guess that definition comes close as I think of friends I've had over the years. We would all agree they're special people.
But I've always been confused by the term "friends." What I mean to say is, I've had close dealings with people one day and on the next they're distant. I'll meet them after a day or two and say "Hi" and just receive a "nod" of recognition in return with no smile of engagement or body language of acceptance. So I wonder if I should consider him/her to be a friend.
Maybe friendship has a shelf life expressed in hours not days.
It's confusing when one attempts to redefine co-workers as friends. I've worked with a lot of people over the years, and spent considerable time with someone, even doing things together after hours like playing tennis, golf or just getting a meal at a restaurant. But as soon as we're separated, it's like we never knew each other.
Neither of us bothers to call, or to even keep in touch.
Was that a friendship? Maybe it was just a "co-worker extension" or an "activities companion."
Is it possible to have a "close" friend? It seems to me that if two people are friends, then they stay connected anyway. If you value a friendship then it should be treated as something valuable.
Just yesterday I delivered a devotional talk to some people at a senior center. It was three in the afternoon and they had already had their post-lunch naps, so the audience was attentive as I talked about the need for each of us to seek God and become close to Him. After the discourse ended one man told me he had a question, so after everyone left we talked.
"How do I become a friend with God?" He asked.
This is the only time I've been asked this question, but not the first time I've considered the issue. For twenty years I've pondered this from every conceivable angle and I responded by saying, "You need to spend time with Him," and then I waited for him to speak again. After a few seconds of evaluation, he nodded his head in affirmation. He saw the truth in what he'd heard.
And this principle prevails for our relationship with all persons we consider as friends.
The second definition of "friend" in the dictionary says "a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter." It seems to me that friendship involves more than a certain compatibility. It involves action, so when I consider my co-worker, Paul, of thirty years ago an "old friend," I'm referring to the fact that he used to be a friend, and will be again if we ever meet up. But that sounds unfair, because I'm unwilling to discard the term so lightly.
"Once a friend, always a friend" seems more appropriate.
But I do agree that friendships grow and die over time, and as I spend more and more time with God in personal prayer my relationship with Him changes. Not only that but, it also changes me deep within. My desires for certain things languish, and I become a more patient person.
Friends affect us in a similar fashion, becoming beneficial as their lives influence us in subtle but profound ways. That's why people say "friends are our future," because they're important.
That's why we confide in them.
So, have you confided to Jesus yet today?
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