Opening Thoughts On Friendship

What does it mean to be a friend? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Someone recently wrote to me and said they would like me to write on the topic of friendship. This is just an opening to get my initial thoughts out. As it stands, friendship has always been a big part of my life even to this day. Friends are fellow travelers on the journey. They are often something different from family, although they can be family. I consider my wife my best friend, for example.

Yet friendship is often difficult to define. This is even more so in our day and age of Facebook. Sometimes Allie will get a friend request from someone and ask if I know them. I say I don’t and she says “Well you’re friends on Facebook.” I tell her that (As of this time) I have over 3,000 friends on Facebook. I don’t know all of them.

That brings a new dynamic also. I am sure I am friends with people I have never met, but how is that possible? It’s interesting when I think about it that some people I know I met for the very first time and only time at my wedding.

Why are we friends with someone? What do we really want with them? How do we view the relationship? Can friends drift apart and then come back together again? At our wedding shower, my wife and I were greeted by a friend I had had during my childhood that was a best friend then and yet we fell apart, but it was great to reconnect again.

Are there some friends that are only friendships of convenience of a sort? Think of people you work with at times and then when you leave the job, the relationship goes away as well. You can enjoy working with them, but you don’t have them come over to your house normally.

Do you really have to have friends? Everyone by nature has family, even if it is not a good family. Someone gave birth to you. Someone is your mother and father regardless of how they treat you. What about friends? Are friends something different?

Plato wrote many dialogues and in the Lysis he talked about friendship. In the end, Socrates does something odd. He tells the boys he is talking with that they are not sure what friendship is. It’s again left undefined as happens in a lot of dialogues. However, Socrates surprised me at the end when he said anyway, “I hope we depart this conversation as friends.”

Aristotle likewise wrote a lot about friendship. This could be the virtue that he wrote about more than any other. Isn’t it interesting to consider friendship as a virtue? We usually think of behaviors we should do to be virtuous. How is it that having friends counts as being virtuous?

I really don’t know where this series will go and I could get distracted from time to time. Friendship is something that it’s really hard to think about because it’s so hard to define. I hope this will be a good journey to open us up to what friendship means and how we are to treat friends here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters