Holding Friends Close

What does it mean to hold friends close?

Many years ago, about 15 in fact, a couple of “friends”, or should I say acquaintances at that particular point, got together and decided to hang out a little to see where it would all go. Little did we know what it takes for true friendship to mature and feed the soul.

In the beginning we commented on social events, relationships gone wrong, pastoral dilemmas, political and cultural oddities, and theological movements that morphed in front of our eyes. Many words were spilled as we attempted to decipher what we sensed were important topics to cover. Then it got personal. At some point we collectively decided to drop the facade and let light shine into some dark corners. There have been lots of those.

Suffice it to say that it takes a long time for personal reserve to dissipate and trust to take its place. The question comes – why do this at all? Why should men meet to bare their souls and listen to the longings that lurk underneath?

We have discovered two truths right off the bat:

Firstly, it is fun to get together. I actually enjoy the drive to our meeting place because I know what awaits me…the listening, objective, totally accepting ear of friends who are not surprised by anything I say or how I say it.

And secondly, that not all things that lurk beneath in conversation are good or healthy for the development of the soul. When transparency lets ideals, temptations and commitments rise to the surface, commentary and clarifying counsel should follow. Phrases such as “you’re kidding, right?”, “you don’t even believe that”, “that must have hurt”, and “I dare you to say that out loud”, are in abundance.

It is good to know that everything we speak about stays at our meeting place, but also good to know that we are not the same when we leave and we are better for the experience…every time.

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