I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently about what defines a friend. The word is often banded about but do we all mean the same thing when we use it?
For me, a friend is someone who is involved in my life, knows me flaws and all and still chooses to engage with me. A friend is someone who can be relied upon to listen to you, to be a shoulder to cry on, someone to laugh with.
So far, I’m assuming most of you agree? However, for me it then goes a little further. I also need a friend to be someone who can be honest with me and I can be honest to back to. You see otherwise what’s the point? If your ‘friends’ aren’t prepared to challenge you for fear of upsetting you and the same goes for you then is that really a friend?
You see, I would much rather someone felt comfortable to raise issues or concerns with me – it may lead to a lively debate or perhaps a disagreement but surely that’s the point.
I want people in my life who support me with love and kindness as we all do but I also desire the truth. If we go through life unchallenged and indulged how will we meet our potential or grow? We are all guilty of displaying less than desirable characteristics :
arrogance, greed, dishonesty, pride to name but a few.
Do you want to be surrounded by people who allow that in you or do you want them to challenge you? I’ve enjoyed self pity, I’ve enjoyed arrogance because at the time it feels good – admit it. Afterwards however, on reflection it feels ugly and wrong and I can’t help but think there were ‘friends’ standing by who allowed my behaviour. I do not want to be allowed to be like that.
Am I inviting endless criticism by even floating this idea? I don’t think so. I don’t think a true friend would constantly criticise you and point our all of your flaws. I do think they would speak the truth in love and at first it may well smart, hurt and wound a little. Who amongst us enjoys criticism in any form? Even that masked as ‘constructive’ doesn’t feel very comfortable to hear.
What I am saying is that I need to consider for myself the difference between an acquaintance and a friend. That I need to ensure I invest in the people who are prepared to challenge me and that I need to stop sitting back with my own friends and speak the truth in love. It may be difficult at first but I’m hoping it will lead to deeper and better relationships which is what we all really want.
So what is a friend to you? I’d be interested to know.