Loving Friends Well
“Pity the person who falls and has no one to help him up!” Solomon said in the book of Ecclesiastes. I hate to start with the scary negative in writing about friendship. However, the reality of it holds a great message of hope fulfillment and potential change, like the perennial message of Dickens’ novel, A Christmas Carol. In the story Ebenezer Scrooge awakens to life’s abject emptiness without friendship; he returns to the gift of being fully alive by receiving and giving friendship—in spite of its inevitable pain.
We are not suited for living alone; we are created to find fuller life in friendship. And there is an essential quality that we must accept and develop to love well in friendship: genuine emotional expression that makes us known from the inside-out.
Aristotle said that a friend halves our sorrows and doubles our joy. In showing up emotionally in each other’s lives we offer a hand in help when life knocks us down with losses. There is a magic in knowing that we are not alone and someone cares when what matters to our hearts is lost—whether the loss be as simple as a small hope dashed or a long awaited outcome that never arrives. We can keep on living, so to speak, until we feel alive again if we know that someone aches for our good.
Likewise, when something wonderful occurs or a small delight arrives, if someone delights with us in our delight, our joy is increased. What a beautiful irony that our joy multiplies by being shared. When we see into the face of someone who takes joy in our celebration, our hearts are expanded to know that we are not alone and that someone can give joy instead of resentment or jealousy or shame.
For our lives to be sustained and expanded, we must share our emotional experiences of living. Handling life with the isolative comment, “It is what it is,” is a claim on self-sufficiency, distrust of others’ ability to care, and a statement of denial about how we are created to feel. It will never gratify the heart. Offering our true emotional selves to those who can do the same will gratify the heart.
A great gift is a person who can sit in our aches with us and dance with us in our celebrations.
Solomon said that two are better than one, because they have a better return for their effort than alone, and if one slips, the other can help him up. And when one has held the other from falling and found the relief of life in each other’s faces, what gratefulness is theirs no matter the circumstances—sorrow or joy. To have security in knowing that I belong and matter with someone is better than being rich alone, risking alone, and especially being alone within myself no matter how many people are around me. Pity the person who lives alone within their own hearts, for they have fallen and no one can pick them up because no one knows.