We sat together under the starry sky, the calm and quiet adding to the intimacy of conversation. I gazed around the table at faces I hadn’t seen in a long while, people I love and respect, those who have influenced my life in positive ways.
A gift of friendship that I too often overlook or undervalue.
We’re from all over the country, and all were there for meetings. This night was a dinner to reconnect with old friends and welcome new ones.
There’s something about true camaraderie that ignites a sense of belonging in me. Being with others who are choosing to engage, whether we agree on topics or not, stimulates the heart, soul, and mind.
Finding people who are willing to be vulnerable and authentic, however, is often a challenge. We are a society made of managed images, and dismissing those who don’t think, act, or believe like us is easier than working through differences. Differences make us think and process; differences open our minds to possibilities we may not want to embrace. And yet if everyone in our world is the same, some of us may be superfluous and unnecessary.
No one wants to think of themselves as redundant or unwanted. Nobody chooses to go through life unloved and unseen, but how often do we treat people as if they were precisely that?
C.S. Lewis, in his book, “The Four Loves”, says:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket–safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”
We’ve seen what happens when people remain isolated for long periods of time. COVID has been a Petrie dish of pain as many have substituted things or activities for the people in their lives. We weren’t made to live as islands, drifting with the changing tides of time and circumstance, detached from others who can mirror to us who we are and remind us that we matter.
True relationships are based on love and respect. Honesty opens us to the possibility of being hurt and rejected. Jesus fully grasped that. He came to give us the capacity and ability to love well as we receive His love, even though He was mocked and scorned, especially by the religious leaders of His day.
“We love each other because He loved us first.” 1 John 4:19
Love and friendship are work, both necessary for us to survive and thrive.
To have and be a friend, we must open ourselves to possible pain, for being rejected and misunderstood is part of living in a world full of hurt.
But it’s necessary.
“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” C.S.Lewis
Who do you really value?