Friends: We all have them and we all want them. We love them; we want to kill them. I've heard that friends are good for us: they make us healthier and they even make us more attractive! Can friends point us to God? Of course, right? But is that what you look for in a friend? Aren't we just looking for someone who's fun and who we like to spend time with? Are we looking for someone who's a good listener? Someone who cares about us?
Recently I heard about Dr. Greg Popcak’s
book “God Help Me! These People are Driving Me Nuts: Making Peace with Difficult People”
. I love that title! Don’t all of us have to deal with difficult people more often than we would like to?
But in truth, my response to anyone who comes to me for advice on dealing with difficult people is “how much do you care about that person?” See, if we do not care much for the relationship with that person, or do not have need for that relationship, then it’s easy to deal with them: Just limit your relating with them as much as possible.
The real problem is when you care about the person or really value the relationship. That’s when we must do something, without being destructive to ourselves, to love that person and to nurture the relationship.
That led me to think about friendship.
I’ve spent a lot of time speaking and writing about holiness and how important it is to make it to Heaven. I’ve written about the Sacraments and morality, but for most of us, our day-to-day is not so much about all those ‘religious’ things; it’s about the relationships with those we love.
One of the best definitions of Sacrament that I’ve heard is that Sacraments fill us with God’s Life (that’s why they are visible signs of invisible Grace). That is different from a sacramental, which is something that points us in the direction of God.
If we consider that we help point each other towards God, can we argue that we, as friends, can be considered sacramentals?
How do you make friends?
When I was little, guess who my friends were? My parents friends’ kids. There’s not much choice in that. Then I went to school. Guess who my friends were? The kid who was in my class and also on the same bus as me because we lived near each other. I went to a school that was JK to 12 so I was with a lot of the same people for many, many years.
Had I thought about it (because I didn’t), by the time I was in grade 6 or so, I would have realized that I didn’t have much choice on who my friends were. But the older I got I became involved in other activities and met other people outside of school. How did I make friends? I was involved in martial arts and music, so I got involved in that and made some friends who shared those similar interests. I was also part of a youth group and youth music group at church. A lot of the people in that group were (and still are) my friends. Still, there's not much choice in that. We sort of just drifted together as we shared interests or certain personality traits.
How do we make friends? It’s not like we go out and interview people. It just sort of happens, right?
And then you grow up and you think, “I have nothing in common with these people.”
How would you define a friend?
I asked some high school students. Here’s what they said:
A friend is…
- Someone you can rely on
- Someone you can talk to
- Someone who is always by your side
- Someone you can laugh with
- Someone you can confide in
- Someone you can cry with
Those are all true. Since sacramentals are also a signs, I thought I’d spend the next couple of weeks looking at what the signs of a good friend are.
If you were interviewing for friends, what would you look for? Come back next week
and let’s start by looking at some qualities we should all be looking for in friends.
In the meantime, write to me
and let me know what qualities you look for in a friend.
Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: [email protected]