Friday, March 9, 2007

Face to Face Friendships

I remember how at one time or another, there have been friends in my life that really mattered. Not that the friendships I have now don’t matter, it’s just that the ones I remember seemed more authentic, vulnerable and honest in terms of community. They were also knit together by common interests and passions. We were “birds of a feather” that were constantly seeking opportunities to “flock together”. I’m referring to friendships that go back to the teen and twenty something years.

Some of us still keep in touch with each other. The problem is that we live many miles apart and many years have accumulated since those days of koinonia. (see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koinonia)

With those years came the periodic news of trials, tragedies, turning points and triumphs.

The news of serious hardships, illnesses, deaths, divorces, job losses, relocations, successful business ventures, promotions, and family additions have proven that time’s no respecter of persons and won’t wait for you to catch up.

Once in a while since then, there have been a handful of relationships that begin to take on the positive qualities described above. They’re rare, but when they do happen, they’re a breath of fresh air. Yet, for one reason or another, these friendships are difficult to cultivate beyond the few moments of authenticity. Why so?

I’m sure it’s not because there isn’t a genuine interest in having them.

I have decided to give thoughtful consideration to this.

“For everything there is a season”

Why are deep friendships difficult to cultivate at certain seasons of life?

After coming up with all types of possible reasons, I have concluded that most of the reasons are peripheral hindrances, and can’t be addressed unless the central ones are. In my experience, at least two seem to be central.

1. Increasing responsibilities bring increasing demands on our time.

Marriage, children, career, home, health, bills, etc., all come along with time, and all continue to demand more of the little time we have left each day… time we wished we had more of to spend on cultivating authentic friendships among other things (outside the home).

Life Happens! I have a family that I’m responsible for. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a different thing, a different good thing.

He who finds a wife finds a good thing,
And obtains favor from the LORD. Pro. 18:22

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward. Ps. 127:3

Still, I believe that a man should have a few men in his life that can share a source of deep fellowship, honest accountability, and encouraging strength with each other.

The same should be for a woman. That is, she should have a few women in her life as well.

But the demands of life’s responsibilities at home, which include making a living, gives us little time to spend with others outside the home. So in order to make it happen, we need to be better managers of our time.

2. Increasing demands on our time requires clear priorities.

If life is to be taken one day at a time, then each day, we should be making the most of our time.

Good friendships need to be cultivated, they don’t just come. It takes time to develop them. Therefore, in life’s busy seasons, we need to understand that without appointed times (set apart for; established for; predetermined; arranged), the things that need to get done, won’t get done. God thinks it is important enough in that He set’s appointed times for everything from His Holy Feasts, to meeting times, to future events.

" 'These are the LORD's appointed feasts, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times. Lev. 23:4

And the LORD appointed a set time, saying, Tomorrow the LORD shall do this thing in the land. Ex. 9:5

For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. Hab. 2:3

If the LORD does it, what better example do we need?

It really isn’t that we don’t have the time to make close friends, it’s that we don’t include this as one of our priorities in life.

May I suggest that we can’t afford NOT to.

I trust that if we were to take an inventory, we would find that we are taking up valuable time doing things that are of little or no value (watching TV, PC games, and overworking come to mind).
Of course, if we were to make friendships one of life’s priorities, it can’t be done alone. This is a two way street. What’s the point in setting an appointed time for others if the other party doesn’t show up?

So here lies the criterion for a potential authentic friendship.
Is there effort coming from both sides? If not, you may need to care for that person, but not necessarily become vulnerable to that person. You may need to be patient in waiting for a response, but you may also be pursuing a one sided relationship. That's not the type of friendship I’m talking about, that may just be codependency… and for that, you may need to pursue counseling instead.

Setting time aside for someone else says we care.

God didn’t set His appointed times because he needed a schedule for Himself. He set them out of love for us. They speak of His commitment to us and involvement with us. He steps into time from eternity and fulfills His promises in time.

“Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”

We need to do the same, because love is the cement that authentic friendships are built on.

Just talking about getting together won’t cut it when it comes to deep friendships. There has to be appointed times. There must be an effort to meet face to face. That’s what close friends do.


“The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Ex. 33:11

David Gonzalez

1 comment:

Matt in a distant land said...

Awesome thoughts on friendship! I just had a similar conversation with a friend. More than ever, our lives our filled with trivial things which steal our time. Countless ways in which the business of life controls us rather than we it. Created in the image of the Holy One, we are designed for relationship. As He walked in the cool of the evening with Adam, perhaps another appointed time, I believe we are walking in His ways by cultivating similar relationships. Thanks for the good exhortation to carve out time in pursuit of gold as apposed to wood, hay and stuble. aquaintences