So I was listening to part of a series earlier this month and I had to reflect via this blog post. You can, for your own good, check out the video here
So I am and have been, privileged to have a global experience when it comes to living and learning. I spent some time as an exchange student in the UK – something that gave me an opportunity to get travel experience in Europe. I studied at an international school and proceeded to graduate from an American university… Call it diaspora or Third Culture Kid tendencies, it’s on you hahaha.
Throughout my experiences, I have gained two best friends and numerous friends and acquaintances…. I often say, my best friends don’t fall under the “friend” circle. One is a “sister” and the other is “my person”… So I say this, right, and that is all well and good. I also, then, have A LOT of people that I consider friends… Having listened to this series, though, I find it necessary to conduct a friend audit.
A. Did I have it wrong all along?
Charles Metcalf speaks on three categories of “friendship”:
- Real Friends
I am not going to go into detail on how he defines these (you can check out the video yourself) but I took note of his description of real friends. Think about this as the reflection on these.
B. Come along with me, in the night
One thing that I have always known about friendship is the value that comes with people coming alongside you. If you go to many Swati weddings – which I do because I am a pastors kid and dare not show up at the church members wedding… Uzozibonela, haha – you have heard the “two are better than one” statement [Ecclesiastes 4:9-12].
There are so many times where I have reflected on the value of someone who comes along with you in different situations. Think to break up ice-cream at sonic, think long nights and early morning… There are so many situations that I have been in and, really, just needed My Person to just be there – no words, no convo, just be present in the situation. I know I say this literally but it holds true figuratively as well. Understanding the value of friendship means understanding that the one you call a friend can fight alongside you in every situation that you face.
C. I ain’t doing that with you bro
So, if you know me, you know I am stubborn AF!! Once I decide on something there is no going back. I am not about to listen to you about it either. In that, I like things to go my way too. So, to be honest, I can be unreasonable in my expectations. I am grateful, though, that my friends often call me out on this… Sometimes I listen and sometimes I don’t. When it comes down to it, though, I know that there are people who will tell me, to my face, that I am off track and I need to fix my life!!
Pastor Charles speaks of the importance of having people who will be sure to “call you out”. He says “If you are the only warrior in your circle, you will get tired of fighting other people’s battles”. I know I have gone through situations where people were EVIDENTLY fighting against me and I wanted to walk away and never talk to them again – we’ve been there. In retrospect, though, these are the people who fought for me when I couldn’t fight for myself… And these are the people who will make sure I don’t slip away when I’d rather do that.
I remember reading Americanah and noting the relationship between Ime and Ginike (when Ime was depressed, remember that?). These are the times when friendship isn’t about simply agreeing with your friend but also entails calling them out into their full-blown identity. Y’all, there is so much value in having friends who will fight against you.
D. Chill, I’ve got you
Then there is the fighting for you when you can’t fight for yourself part. There is so much comfort in knowing when to fight for those you care about. There is so much beauty in being told, “you don’t have to fight, I’ve got you”. Knowing that, regardless of how you feel about the situation, your unwillingness to tackle something, there is someone willing to let you take a step back and “handle it”.
I consider myself a very independent person: I struggle with allowing people I am dating to pay for the whole meal, I struggle with sharing my need for help with friends, I struggle with vulnerability. One thing that I have realized, over the years, is that allowing someone to “get you” requires trust – a lot of it even. It requires that you let your guard down a little and realize that it is not just about being a receiver of pity or charity (which my independent mind always rushes to) but it is also about being a receiver of love.
Y’all, there is nothing as beautiful as hearing “I’ve got you” from someone you care about. There is nothing as comforting as knowing that you have a safe place to just be, where you do not have to fight or pretend you have a handle on things because your friend really knows you don’t and are willing to hold down the fort until you’ve REALLY got it.
E. When all is said and done
The translation of the word friend/friendship comes for the Hebrew roots “rh” and “hb” – with reeh and oheb being the most common terms for a friend. All things considered, these translate to “one who loves.” Thus “the ideas of friend and friendship involve three components: association, loyalty, and affection.”[ Elwell, Walter A. “Entry for ‘Friend, Friendship'”. “Evangelical Dictionary of Theology”. 1997.]
As the first quarter of the year is coming to an end, maybe it’s time to conduct a friend audit! Ask yourself:
- Does this person fight alongside, against, and with me?
- Do I consider this person an associate?
- Do I consider this person loyal?
- Do I consider this person affectionate towards me?
And be honest about answering these questions, you will be doing yourself a favor.
Let’s talk about it, what is your definition of a friend? How have you learned from your friends so far? Have you watched the video, what do you think? Leave a comment!