Friends are funny things, aren't they? The last few years or so I've thought a lot about friends. What is a good friend? How do I ensure that I am a good friend? I can't really control what kind of friend people are to me but I can determine my actions towards them. I worry a bit about this because I'm such a homebody and love hanging out with my husband that I fear I don't put enough into friendships sometimes.
Moving to Cape Town we knew that the friendships we had with people in Australia had to move into a new way of operating. We also knew that part of our move was to create new friendships and new support networks in Cape Town. To straddle both countries wholeheartedly is too much to expect from anyone. Our move is with our whole selves and friendship is included in this.
The Fwe have a proverb about friendship:
Chizuba cha muenzo kansikwe.
Literally: Your friend's chest is darkness.
I know it's a rather dark perspective on friendship but I understand this proverb deeply when I think about some friends that I've had over the years. People that I thought I really understood but it ended up that I had absolutely no idea about who they thought they were.
It makes Jesus' friendship with me so much more precious. Jesus knows me completely. And with the Holy Spirit I know what I can know about Jesus completely. What I am meant to know, I know. What I am not meant to know, I don't know and it's for my own good. There's no hidden evil in Jesus. No hidden character flaw that will bring me grief at some point in my life. Jesus' chest is not darkness to me.
Kevin De Young's series on friendship was really encouraging to me.
It helped me to think about the types of friends I've had in my life and also challenged me about the kind of friend I am. One of the greatest things that I've struggled with in terms of having and being a good friend is conflict. I've rarely had overt and verbalised conflict with friends. I'm too much of a people-pleaser and find it difficult to assert myself in potentially upsetting situations. But the friends with whom I have experienced conflict have fallen very clearly on either side of the fence: some are still close friends, others are not. That's painful because my people-pleaser self stresses that if only I hadn't said anything we'd still be friends - but what kind of friends when open conversation kills the friendship?
So, I'm determined then, to be a good friend and show those around me the unfailing friendship of Jesus.
(The owl picture reminds me of a fun conversation I had with a good friend. Sometimes there are things that make you smile that no one else gets - it's just for me and my friend.)