The Search for Spiritual Friendship (2): Rethinking Friendship, Part II

Last week, I talked about why I didn’t want to talk or think about friendship for the rest of my life and ever ever ever again. This week, I’m going to talk about why I’m doing just that.

The Christian group that I’ve been attending recently, GCF, just finished a series on Spiritual Friendship. I actually didn’t even think much of it when I heard that this series was happening, which goes to show how far I’ve come in the conversation about friendship. I was interested, but I didn’t feel like it was going to be great and I generally wasn’t looking forward to Christian fellowship things (I’ve grown very wary of Christian fellowships in my old age) and so it wasn’t a huge deal to me.

The first week’s session was on Jesus and Lazarus. I’ve blogged about this story, not with respect to the friendship but with respect to the topic of glory, so it’s one that’s pretty near and dear to my heart. We said some things about Jesus’ friendship with Lazarus and it was whatever, then we went to dinner and that was cool.

The following week’s lesson was on Ruth and Naomi, a story I’ve always found very boring so I was not in attendance that day.

But the third week was one David and Jonathan.

I know I’ve written about David and Jonathan before on this blog, but I can’t find the post and I don’t care enough to do it. David and Jonathan are the very definition of spiritual friendship. But even so, I didn’t see it. When we had to read through the passage and then comment on it in small groups, I couldn’t think of anything to say about David and Jonathan. I HAD ZERO OPINIONS ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN DAVID AND JONATHAN.

That’s very weird for me, seeing as how I’m always very interested in friendship, but that’s what happened. People brought out some good points about the story – including a Dietrich Bonhoeffer quote! – and it was cool. Everything they said was good, it just didn’t really hit me too hard. I cared, but I wasn’t particularly moved by it.

I think the reason I wasn’t moved goes back to one of the points I made last week, self-preservation. Self-preservation makes it so that people’s ideas seem naive to me because, in my mind, I’ve been there, done that, and realized that it wasn’t even worth the T-shirt. Talk about spiritual friendship is cute when it’s all theoretical and you’re pining for a friendship like that, but it’s much less attractive when you feel like you’ve been in the vicinity of that and it didn’t go super well.

It didn’t become attractive until we got back into small groups and talked about the discussion. One of the girls said something that made me stop and totally reconsider my previous position.

She told us about her expectation of friendship, which included closeness, openness, trust, vulnerability, reliability, basically all the good stuff. She told us about how she kept feeling like those expectations were too high and that she should accept whatever she had. She basically told us my inner thoughts for the past few years.

Hearing all that stuff verbalized had a profound effect on me. It made me feel less ashamed, which is how I was able to deal with the first barrier to creating this series.

Next time: Time Well Spent

DJP

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