“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art..It has no survival value; it is one of those things that give value to survival” C.S. Lewis
It was a simple survey sent home with my daughters from school.
I thought it’d take no more than two minutes to log on to the computer and complete it. What kind of topics did I want the guidance counselor to discuss with my kids? That’s all it really asked.
Drugs and alcohol? Grief counseling? Conflict resolution? Anger management? Organizational skills? Self-esteem?
I rated each category: Very important, somewhat important, not so important.
When I finished, I noticed the box for further comments and almost left it blank. Almost. It would have been much faster just to click “Finished” and send the survey on.
But I had something to say.
I’m tired of my children coming home from school upset about some new unkindness, some new drama in their relationships, some new friendship crisis.
It’s hurtful and mean and I’m overwhelmed and astonished.
Someone needs to tell our kids about friendship. What it means. How it requires loyalty, grace, kindness. They need to know how to be a good friend and how to choose good friends.
How friends don’t steal your stuff and then tease you about “Finders Keepers.”
Friends don’t jump all over your back when you make a mistake and mock your hair style in front of a whole classroom of students.
Friends don’t expect exclusivity and jealously make up lies about you behind your back to destroy your other relationships.
Friends don’t blackmail you into doing what they want to do and only what they want to do with assertions that, “I won’t be your friend anymore unless….”
Friends don’t whisper into your innocent ear bad words and foolish ideas designed to get you into trouble.
What I really want is someone to echo my speeches to my own children, so that more kids know that in a world of selfishness and cruelty, violence, “me-first” ideologies, and cut-throat tactics—friendship matters. Compassion, kindness, generosity, selfless and loyal love, matter.
Of course, these lessons always begin with us, and I realize slowly, we can’t just tell it, we need to live it.
The friends we make, the relationships we invest in, the way we treat other people, when we choose to make people a priority and service and compassion our lifestyle, when we take a stand rather than follow sheepishly along with the crowd—this matters, not just for us, but for the children watching our example.
It mattered for Lot, Abraham’s nephew, who chose friendship in Sodom, with those steeped in sin and selfishness.
When enemy kings invaded the land and carried Lot off as a captive, not one of his new “friends” chased down the captors to rescue him. They quickly abandoned Lot in his need. Shrugging helpless shoulders, they simply carried on with their own lives.
It was Abraham, the loyal friend, Lot’s faithful, caring, unselfish, God-following uncle, who left his own family and possessions and rallied a rescue team to yank Lot out of disaster (Genesis 14).
The mistake for Lot happened long before he was dragged off by the enemy. As Beth Moore writes in her study, The Patriarchs, “Lot’s mistake on behalf of his family was pitching ‘his tents near Sodom’ (p. 55, Genesis 13:12).
And while we may not be choosing to revel in relationships as sin-infected as Sodom and Gomorrah, still we sometimes settle a little too “near” compromise.
Or, like Lot, we focus so much on how to prosper and get ahead, accomplish and succeed, that we fail to feed and water the seeds of friendship with the loyal and Godly few.
Or we form friendships with those who will abandon us in a quick second rather than run to our aid in times of trouble and crisis.
What we truly need is to build relationships with truly loyal, truly wild-about-God, truly kind and compassionate friends. Friends who show grace and receive grace.
And we hold onto those people dearly, even if we disagree or life gets crazy.
How I rejoice when my daughters choose a Good Friend. Surely God’s heart is also happy when we choose to knit our hearts with good friends, those who will rescue us in trouble and carry us back to Him when we are held captive and too weak to fight the enemy ourselves.
Watching my girls, I learn, ever-the-slow-student, how friendship is worth the time. Good friends are worth keeping. Play dates and get-togethers aren’t busyness; they are healthy for the soul.
And this laughing with a friend, this reaching out, this service, this calling, this mourning and rejoicing together, these two bowed heads together, and these knees bending on behalf of another are a blessing to me, are a blessing to my children, are a blessing to the heart of God.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2013 Heather King
2 thoughts on ““Friendship is unnecessary….””
It amazes me when others do such hurtful and nasty things because it would never occur to me to think, do, act or say the same. It’s difficult to understand. One of the things to remember is that the world is not a nice place and most people are not going to act the way we want. We need to be wise and watch someone over a period of time to help determine their integrity. Not so we can say, “Ah ha – I knew you were going to be mean and hateful,” but so that we are aware of someones character and decide if we really want to be associated on a deeper, more personal level, with that kind of a person. Children are still trying to learn who they want for friends, and some seem to want to build friendships with everyone. As parents, we need to help our kids understand the difference of having to “get along” with others we are in contact with, and choosing someone we want to have as a best buddy. If the school can help train children in friendship skills, that’s great. Who knows what some of these kids are or are not getting at home, but it all boils down to heart issues. It’s good if the kids can learn friendship manners, but how much better to have a heart that truly loves and cares for others.
Yes, I do think my kids want to be friends with everyone and I tell them all the time they have to be nice to everyone, but they don’t have to be friends with those who don’t respect them or treat them with kindness. I want the girls to know they are worth good friends! It is so much about caring about others yourself and then making good choices when it comes to whom to befriend and investing in those relationships.