Friendship And Pleasure

Do friends make everything better? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I still remember reading about Double Dragon II coming out on the Nintendo. It had this new innovation in it in that two players could play simultaneously. In the past, when you played a game, you each had to take your turn. Now you could both go at the same time. How incredible was that?

After all, playing a game can be a lot of fun, but it’s even better when someone does it with you. If I play a game by myself at home, that can be fun, but it’s really more enjoyable if Allie is right there with me even if she’s just watching. Many of us know this about our friendships. Things are just more fun if you do them with friends.

It’s okay to watch your favorite show. It’s even better when you watch it with friends or at least discuss it with them, like when my friend Chris and I used to get together every week to watch the new episode of Smallville. Going to a sporting event or a concert isn’t my cup of tea, but some people enjoy it, and I suspect they enjoy it even more with friends.

With friendship, you not only get the enjoyment of what you’re doing, but the enjoyment of doing it with someone else and seeing how they respond to it. Get more people together and it can be even more enjoyable. My bachelor party back in 2010 had to be one of the most tame bachelor parties of all by comparison. I got together with several of my friends at a place with a big screen and we just played Super Smash Brothers Brawl all night long.

Many friends also have inside jokes. There are things that they share that they share with no one else. A simple word or phrase or gesture can bring out uproarious laughter from the group.

These times can also lead to other connections. This can lead to sharing of things as you build a bond of trust with the friend and the friendship can move beyond just one of pleasure together, but it can also be one of a sort of intimacy together. In our culture, we often refer to intimacy and think it just refers to the sexual act. There are plenty of other ways of being intimate.

It’s odd how it works. When suffering enters, pain is divided. You don’t have to carry it as much because someone else is sharing it with you. Yet when it comes to pleasure, pleasure is not divided but rather it is multiplied. Your having pleasure at the same activity as me does not diminish my pleasure. Instead, it increases it.

So why not go and see a friend today? Take their pain for them and let them have less. Give them some pleasure and let them have more. Be a friend.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Friends In Suffering

How do friends help in suffering? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

One of the interesting phenomena that takes place is that a place to commit a crime and get away with it is in public. There are stories of a woman being raped in an apartment complex and is in the outdoors and is screaming, but no one does anything. Why? Because everyone assumes that someone else is doing something.

Consider our hearing of car horns. When car alarms started with horns going off, people might have noticed. Now, we hear the horn go off and no one really does anything. It’s become mundane. My personal thought is since everyone has smartphones now, what we should do is when someone starts to break into the car, it sends a silent message to the person who owns the car so the thief doesn’t know and the police can arrive and catch the person in the act.

So it is sometimes with friendship. Friends can be a great help in suffering, but one of the great sadnesses is that usually, we assume someone else will do it. Because of that, those people who need the help of their friends are not getting it.

A few months ago, I was on Facebook and saw in a group someone posting about being in the darkest spot of their life and wanting to end it all. I knew this person some and immediately messaged them and started talking them through it. For a few days, I was getting in touch with them everyday just to check on them. Eventually, they said they had someone around them who was helping them and I moved on, but I did take the step to reach out and help.

Just now, my wife and I were heading home and she was in a depressed state. She could be still, but she’s sounding a bit upbeat right now. Why? Because a friend called her she wasn’t expecting and they’re just talking. They’re not really talking about their problems so much from what I overhear, but just talking.

We can have this tendency where we all meet together and then go home and we forget about one another. I’ll confess, I’m not good at this either. However, what could it mean to a person to just get a message or a text or a phone call saying “I’m thinking about you.”? As I said, when I was in Middle School, the highlight of my week was my Sunday School teacher calling and seeing how I was doing.

If we send the out of sight, out of mind, message enough, people will start to think they don’t really matter. They just have fair-weather friends. I know it’s made my wife tremendously happy to get a call from someone who knows our financial situation and will still say something like, “I want to take you out for lunch or dinner” or “I want to see a movie with you.” I love being with Allie, but some healthy time apart is good for us too.

Suffering is always easier when you have other people coming alongside you and walking with you. It tells you you are not alone in the journey. “But I don’t know how to help my friend with their problems!” So what? Maybe your help isn’t needed. Maybe just listening is needed. Maybe just a distraction is needed.

This also comes back to being a friend. A friend who is only there when times are good is not much of a friend. Be a friend who is there when times are bad.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

How Do We Get Friends?

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

In the comedy series The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon Cooper wants to befriend one of his antagonists in order to get to use the computer at the lab. Sheldon decides to go to the library, get a book on friendship, though written for kids, and extrapolate the principles to a higher level. Most of us kind of laugh at that because to quote the commercial, “That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.”

And yet, in some ways, it is. There is a sort of art to making friends. Years ago I read Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People. One simple rule I remembered from the book was to remember the names of people you meet. Many of us may not realize it, but we do love to hear the sound of our own names.

So when we moved into our new apartment complex, I tried to make it a point to learn the names of the people around me. It’s a small thing, but it does help. I also try to talk to them about the topics that they bring up. I remember a lively discussion outside the pool here once with a lady who was describing how she took a philosophy class once.

Yet overall, there is one simple way to get friends. It’s to be one. Note that this won’t always work. You cannot force someone to do something like that. Friendship has to be a real and genuine choice.

Do you want people to talk to you? Try to talk to them more. I remember growing up in middle school and the highlight of the week was always the same. I was surprised the first time it happened, but grateful after awhile. It’s a shock when you’re that age and the phone rings at the house and someone asks for you. Who wants to call you? (At least if you’re the nerd in school)

It was the Sunday School teacher that I had asking me how my week was. This would happen every week on Friday or Saturday. It became something I looked forward to. When this teacher died unexpectedly one day, it was my first real encounter with death. My grandfather had died when I was two years old so I couldn’t remember that.

There are plenty of people that if you care about this would love it if you would just reach out to them and see how they’re doing from time to time. If someone doesn’t reach out, odds are no one will reach back. Well suppose you reach out and no one reaches back. Oh well. Do you do the right thing to get a reward?

But if they do reach out, that is excellent for both of you. It’s always good to reach out and do something kind to your fellow man just for the sake of doing something kind. However, if you remain standoffish and don’t reach out to people, most people will likely assume you’re not interested in any sort of relationship and act accordingly.

Keep in mind based on my last entry in this, you don’t really need this to work with a lot of people. You just need a few. This is why accountability partners work so well with programs with Celebrate Recovery and others. One of the best ways to succeed in something is get an accountability partner and a mentor. I have a mentor I email every night.

Bottom line again, if you want to get a friend be one. Make the first move.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

How Many Friends Do We Need?

What’s a good number to have? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you look on my Facebook as of the time of writing this post, you will see that I have 3,083 friends. Don’t for a moment think that I really know all of them. In the past when games let you do this more, when I played a Final Fantasy game and got to rename the characters, I went with the names of my friends. It would be difficult to do that often with Facebook friends.

Sometimes my wife will get a friend request from someone and say “Do you know them?”

“Nope.”

“You’re friends with them.”

“Doesn’t mean that I know them.”

Which is true. Many of you don’t know many of your own Facebook friends well if you have them. Some you might have some good knowledge about, but you wouldn’t really call it an intimate friendship. There are a few Facebook friends I’ve never met in person that I would consider to be true friends that I can count on. It’s often quite enjoyable when I get to meet these friends.

But how many friends do you really need?

Well, if we looked at the life of Jesus, you could consider that he had 12 apostles. Within that group, there was a privileged group, the three, that he invited on very special moments to join him. Even outside of the twelve, there were other people like Lazarus and his family and numerous women. Still, Jesus did not open up with just everyone.

I really think this is a good principle to follow. Have a circle of friends. Let it be a circle with several rings. On the outermost circle are friends you know a couple sparse details about. You could say hi if you saw them in public, but they probably won’t be over to your house for dinner.

The next circle is friends you are closer to. These people might come over for a movie or for dinner. At the same time, you’re not willing to open up the closet door so they can see your skeletons yet. They could often be friends just because you enjoy their company.

The innermost ring though is your faithful circle and I really prefer to keep this ring small. Not only can they be true friends to you then, but you can also be true friends to them. In this lifetime, there is only so much of you that can go around.

People can move in and out of the circles as well. Sometimes it could depend on location. People we were super close to in Knoxville we don’t talk to as much now that we live in Atlanta. That just happens. Some people you can be close to because of work or attending a church with them or anything like that. Again, no one has to be a friend to you always.

Try to make everyone a best friend and you’re in for a world of hurt I think. Have some good friends and then keep a close circle of the people you really trust. Be friends to them and let them be your friends.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What Is A Friend?

What do we mean when we say someone is a friend? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I am continuing the look at friendship that was requested by asking what a friend is. Some people come into our lives and we count them friends, but only for a time. These are people you meet when you go to a common group that you share or a job, but they never contact you outside of that place.

For some people, that’s fine for the most part. I can go to a social meeting and generally, I still like to stick by myself. Sometimes friendships can come from these meetings, but it isn’t common. My wife, meanwhile, is much more social than I am and wants to be included in events and things of that nature.

These are also the friendships that you have with people that you work with and then when one of you leaves the establishment, you lose touch and you don’t speak again. While I am friends on Facebook with people I went to high school with, it’s not like I really know them that well. I did enjoy getting to go to my 20th reunion with them, but we don’t really speak afterward.

C.S. Lewis spoke of something different. He said many friendships begin with “You too? I thought I was the only one.” These are friendships of pleasure at least at first that are built on a shared interest. If people connect over nothing else, then when the shared interest is gone, the friendship is gone as well.

The shared interest could be sports, movies, video games, comic books, anything in the world. It could be sadly an interest in something sinful that leads to the tearing down of people. On the other hand, a group of friends could hold themselves accountable for holiness reasons.

Some of these could bond however into deeper friendships where you value the other person for the sake of the other person, though it doesn’t rule out the other interests. When I worked in Wal-Mart in Knoxville, I had a friend there who was in ministry as I was except I would say really hyper-fundamentalist. We also shared a common interest in video games. Years later he contacts me suddenly needing my apologetics ability that he had dismissed for his own self. He was in a storm of doubt. Fortunately, I was able to help him. Today, he’s a strong Christian learning apologetics well and the friendship has continued.

When I lived in Charlotte, I also had a pair of friends I met at work who are identical twins. We used to get together every Sunday night. We would play Super Smash Brothers for awhile and then we’d go out with their Dad to play bowling. When I visited, I never knocked on the door. I just walked in. They were like a second home to me. They were also groomsmen in my wedding.

My closest male friend, however, seeing as my wife is my best friend, is my former roommate. Today, we mainly talk politics, apologetics, and Final Fantasy. When it came time to choose a best man for my wedding, he was the only choice that I would have considered and he thankfully agreed. When Allie even found out she was low on her medications on our honeymoon, he sent us priority mail some of the medications that were in the apartment so we could continue our honeymoon together.

I have to talk about my examples here because those are the ones I know about the most. You know about your own examples. In all of this, it’s still difficult to define what a friend is, but I think it would be something like someone who’s company you enjoy for the sake of that person and who inspires you to be a better person and you do the same for them.

Do I think this is a perfect definition? No. Like Socrates in the Lysis, I doubt I can define it entirely. I suspect it’s one of those things like time. We all know what it is until we have to say what it is. Despite not knowing, I am still thankful for the friends that I do have, including ones mentioned in this blog. There are many others who were also in my wedding and some who could have been. This is not to slight anyone. If I went over all of my friends, this would be too long a blog post.

So why not think about those friends that you have? I can write later about how many friends I recommend having and things like that, but for now, just be thankful. Your friends would probably like to know you appreciate them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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