Today's post is the latest in a series of meditations on the book An Unexciting Life by Michael Casey. For prior posts in the series, click on "an unexciting life" in the themes section on the right side of this page.
In the chapter "The Value of Stability" there is a section on friendship that this quote is from:
"Humility, service and amiability lay the foundations on which good relationships build. Good relationships prepare the soil from which friendship flowers...
To love another exposes one's own vulnerability...to care for a brother means bearing his burdens: his limitations, his hurts, his mistakes, and ultimately, if the relationship becomes truly redemptive, the crushing weight of his sins."
What struck me in reading this passage is that there is a distinction between having a good relationship (which one should strive to have with every person) and friendship. There is a distinction between loving a person (we are called to love everyone, even our enemies) and having a friend. True friendship (deeper than the pleasant acquaintances we tend to think of as our "friends") is precious because it is relatively uncommon. But if we cultivate good relationships with all, we are more likely to find that some turn into deep friendships.
I am blessed to see both my sons and their wives having thriving friendships with numerous people, people of different backgrounds and generations. This is a testament to the effort that they all make to invest in relationships, to be humble, amiable, and serve others. Of course, this is a perfect description of my husband as well (my kids got it from him).
It is tragic to see families in which the parents are don't place much value in having good relationships with those around them. When their children grow up without a sense of the importance of relationships, they end up making life choices that leave little room for relationships to grow, and their lives become more and more distant from a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Because mankind was created to need relationships, people are not, in a sense, complete as humans if that essential element has not been well-developed in their lives.
I am thankful that in Mexican culture, as in many other parts of the world, relationships are valued more highly than they are in the US. It is quite rare for a person to move so far from his or her family that they can't get together often. It is common for neighbors and even non-neighbors to offer help where they see a need. Amiability is one of the most noticeable characteristics of Mexican people, who are invariably friendly to strangers. And the humility that shines through so often is quite marvelous to us gringos who have difficulty in letting go of our unintented arrogance.
"If you want a friend, be a friend"