As of late, I’ve been spending quality time with some good friends of mine. We haven’t always done this, and I assumed that the reason was because of availability. This summer, however, has provided a great opportunity to further immerse ourselves into this wonderful thing of ours. These moments have led me to the conclusion that it was never really an issue of availability, it was our neglect of some fundamentals without which one can never be more than an “almost friend.”
There are many definitions of what a friend is. The most notable one is, “one attached to another by affection or esteem” (Webster). This definition suggests that affection or esteem is the glue that holds the friendship together. I do have slight disagreements with the definition. I think that it should be: “one attached to another by affection [and] esteem.” My reason is that in a friendship, affection and esteem, which conveys a sense of favor towards and value of, must co-exist.
Upon further consideration I think that the definition should emphasize the mutuality of the attachment. If one side is displaying the necessary ingredients for a friendship but it is not receiving anything in return, then it is not a friendship. Friends should be two or more people that are attached to each other by affection and esteem. Of course there are degrees of affection and esteem, and thus the ones that possess a higher degree of them for each other are the closest friends–or shall we say, “best friends.”
One may do an act with friend-like similitude but not be a friend. On this basis I would like to suggest that knowing for ourselves who our friends are may save us a lot of heartache. It’s profitable to make a mental profile of those that one interacts with to make distinctions between friends, friendlies, and enemies. There is a sense of comfort when one undertake serious reflection on what a friend means to them and who they have shared that kind of experience with.
From a theological perspective some believe that when man was created, he was alone until Eve came. However, when man was created God was the first one that he communicated with. God was not only man’s creator, but man’s first friend. Man didn’t begin alone and is never alone. In fact, man’s natural state of existence is in relation to others within a larger community. If by chance man finds himself in the desert with no other being like himself, God is still around whether man acknowledge Him as God or not.
Time spent doing anything is time invested in being influenced and changed, whether positively or negatively, by what is being done. Whether this time is of quality or not is based on the perspective of the one doing the assessment. When it comes to friendships, quality time is anytime spent doing things that contribute positively to the health of that friendship. This is a time that deepens the affection and esteem that one has for the other.
There is more than one way that affection and esteem can deepen within time. But the keyword is communication. Communication is foremost in anything dealing with two people or more. However, simply communicating is not enough. The method and content of communication is pivotal to whether a friendship exist and what form that existence take. As a norm, many tend not to pay much attention to how they communicate because the content is often viewed as what is most important. As preachers know, this is an error. This can have devastating results because the way in which something is conveyed plays an integral part of the interpretive process. In case you are wondering, communication can take many forms: speech, touch, etc.
I would argue that we may view communication as the major category in which we can fit everything else. In a broad sense I’m saying that communication is the transfer of anything from one person to another. Some may wish to challenge this by arguing that one may not intend on communicating anything by what is being transferred. That is true, but whether one intended to or not, communication still occurs. Communication is not base solely on intent or even whether we are around or not. In fact, not being around, believe it or not, is communicating something to those we are and aren’t around.
Though affection and esteem are what holds the friendship together, it is only birthed through communication. In other words, if there is no communication there is no way to be exposed to the personality to which affection and esteem can be allocated to. Communication plays a double role: one of initiator and sustainer of a friendship.
I don’t know about you, but I’m done theorizing about this. I’m off to practice what I’ve thought.