Friends In Deed

Relationships are never easy whether it’s business or personal.  Aside from differences in views, beliefs and interests, there’s this thing we call “expectations”.

In this instance, I shall tackle the one most seem to think is the simplest form of all – “friendship”.  Well, it shouldn’t be complicated as new friendships can be formed almost anywhere every day of the week. But how come we see neighbours fighting, girlfriends bad-mouthing the other and guys punching mates out of silly arguments?

I have seen neighbours exchanging foul words because of a branch. Yes, a branch that so happens to annoy the other neighbour as the dry leaves from the “culprit” is making the yard/pool dirty. The offended party expected the next-door neighbour to be more sensitive without communicating the issue in the first place. When the concern was finally addressed, both already have assumptions and egos in their heads without realising the issue was really simple had it been approached logically.

Friendship usually starts because its bonded by common interest (ie. lifestyle, parents of kids going to same school, hobbies, same age bracket, etc) or simply because you liked the person establishing an instant connection.

As the relationship progresses, you’re becoming more comfortable gradually allowing the boundaries to fade. You invest your time, effort and emotions cultivating expectations from each other without verbal expression. This process is inevitable and can be an asset to the relationship, if managed correctly.

Now, not all relationship is perfect. So goes with friendship. The problem starts when the boundaries I was talking about become narrower for the other party that he/she feels cornered – helpless or suffocated by the other person’s demands, wants or bullying. It also gets overwhelming when the other expects too much or wants something in return for anything they have given voluntarily. In other words, relationship fails when one becomes selfish.

When I was younger I wondered why I had to “weed out”; why can’t we just all be friends? Then I realised that we all have different values and priorities; and unfortunately the differences are not properly acknowledged due to lack of communication, courtesy and respect.

Respect being the dominant element here; without it the other party will never understand what the other is trying to achieve, based on his/her own goals or self-interest. That’s why in some cases it is so difficult to mix business and personal relationships together.

It is hard to choose friends sometimes as we have been burned by so-called users, manipulators, bullies and gossipers and “favour collectors” (someone who expects something back for their help). Sometimes you wonder, why they picked you as friends in the first place. We are here to co-exist but if your friends just want you because you have something they can use, because you can be easily “convinced” to do something in their favour or so they could look good when you’re around, then you are friends for the wrong reasons.

If the basis of friendship is outside mutual respect and admiration, it is easy to attract ego, immaturity and jealousy making it hard to nurture the relationship. If the foundation is weak, it is easier to find faults on each other and much easier to let go of harsh words both might later regret.

When I choose friends, my instinct is to look at their hearts not their status, sexual preferences, age or their connections. To me, a healthy working relationship, whether it’s marriage or friendship is founded not only by love but also mutual respect for each other where compromise can be agreed on without bitterness, each one is willing to support the other’s interests, each one can listen to the other without judgment, each one’s no longer handcuffed to their egos and each one is committed to knowing, showing and doing what makes the other happy. Because its strength is not only measured by years but how much deep your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual connection has become.

When you have deep ties with your friends, you are liberated by the honesty, humility and acceptance each one brings. I know because I am gifted with valuable circle of friends who may speak brutally honest (telling you what you need to know not what you want to hear), who have little arguments here and there and may be a pain in the rear at times but in our hearts we know we do and say things out of love.

We know because we have bonded for years – together in pain, challenges and happiness like a family. As the saying goes, our friendship is “like a bottle of wine getting better with age”. And I think the reason it works is because every one is into giving more than into receiving. We give a lot to our friendship because we value each other’s skills, personalities, potentials and most of all, feelings. We just love being with each other’s company. As the good book says –

A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for a time of adversity. – Proverbs 17:17

There are “friends” who destroy each other, but real friends stick closer than a brother. – Proverbs 18:24

Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable? – Proverbs 20:6

We all know the kind of friends we need – someone we can trust, someone we respect and someone who we can call brothers. Keep “snakes” outside of your door who will eat your time and crush your trust as Proverbs 16:28 described, “a troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends”.

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