“Have the courage to lose control … to feel useless … to listen … to receive. Have the courage to let your heart be broken … to feel … to fall in love. Have the courage to get ruined for life. Have the courage to make a friend.” — Jesuit Father Dean Brackley
How many of you remember what it was like to find your very first friend?
This friendship probably began with the first time you entered school or joined similar-aged kids on the playground. You hoped that your hair was just right, that you were wearing nice, clean shoes, that you didn’t say something too inappropriate (although that would have been too big of a word to know in kindergarten!), that you had something you could share from your lunch box, that you could hit the ball and run as fast as the other kids.
Up until then, our friends were most likely in our family, maybe our neighbors next door and maybe even a few people we knew from church. We relied on others to help ease us into the art of building a relationship with another human being because how could we really know at age 4 or 5 how to make a friend, much less be a friend to someone else?
I know for me, and maybe for some of you, this was a scary and overwhelming situation, and truthfully it was sometimes easier to just play alone. That way I didn’t have to be hurt. That was how it was for many of us as a child and may continue to be that way for many of us today.
We all came into these situations feeling exactly the same way with feelings of vulnerability and inadequacy, being out of control, appearing lost and yet very intentionally seeking and wanting someone to be our missing piece to our world. As people who are created by our God to be in relationship with others, to be in community, a friend helps to complete us and make us whole.
I asked one of our visitors the other day what makes a friend and he said with a smile, “Someone who will listen when the chips are down and will have compassion for your heartaches, probably because they have been through it, too. Friends are someone whom you can worship with, celebrate with and shed tears with. Sometimes you might not even know who are your friends.”
The friends we found in our childhood, our adolescence, our adulthood only asked from us to share our love. Unknowingly, we gave that love and still give that love as we continue to grow in these relationships and develop new ones today.
What it requires
So who will be my friend tomorrow? Next week? Next month? Next year?
Making a friend requires getting to know someone very intimately by giving them our time and truly listening to their stories.
Making a friend means to look beyond color, race, religion, culture and truly getting to know the soul and heart of the individual who is in your company.
Making a friend is a very unselfish gesture because it allows us to share the gift of ourselves and the love of Christ with everyone we encounter.
Making a friend opens us up to be loved.
Making a friend expands our world and fills in the holes where our spirit and faith might be lacking.
Making a friend welcomes a stranger into your life as a brother or sister.
Making a friend unites us in solidarity and challenges us to lay down prejudices and negativities.
Making a friend encourages us to see our own reflection in the eyes of others.
Making a friend requires trust, understanding and compassion.
Making a friend is more than just Facebook.
Making a friend is painful because love is to be given unconditionally.
Making a friend would bring great joy to our Father’s face.
So, will you be my friend?
Elizabeth Neville is director of the St. Cloud Mission Office, 11 8th Ave. S., St. Cloud.