September 14

One's friends are that part
of the human race with
which one can be human.

George Santayana


Today's Meditation:

I like reading quotations like this about friendship because they give me an idea of how I should be acting as a friend.  We don't have nearly as many role models of being true friends these days, as most of the people we know get wrapped up in their own lives, in being busy and not being able to be there for the people they care for and who care for them.  The years of focus on self and self-indulgence have created a generation that's marked more for its ability to overwork and overeat than for its ability to make and keep friends.

We're in a culture of "independent" people who sometimes seem to be just looking for some reason to cut you out of their lives, for that would simplify life for them, especially if you're going through problems that you need to talk over with others.  And if that's so, I have to ask myself if I do the same things, or if I provide friendship that other people are able to depend on when they need me to be a friend.  Am I the type of person with whom other people feel comfortable being themselves, mistakes and problems and all, or am I the type of "friend" whose judgment other people fear, so they tend not to share openly their thoughts and fears and hopes and desires?

I think that many of us see people not being themselves around us and wish that they would be themselves, and just themselves.  We don't realize, though, that we're the part of that equation that is keeping them from being completely open and honest with us.  Perhaps it's because we don't listen closely, or because we tend to judge others' statements, or because we don't take them seriously enough.

Our goal in being a friend should be just to be a friend, not to change our friends or "fix" them in any way.  Once we start trying to do that, then the true friendship is over and we're in an acquaintanceship.  I want to let others be just what they are, and I want them to be comfortable enough with me to be just that.

Questions to consider:

Why do we so often get so tempted to "fix" our friends--their problems, their personalities, their quirks and habits? 

With what kind of person do you feel the most welcome and comfortable?  Are you that type of person for your friends?

What specific things might we do to make sure that we allow our friends to be completely human, completely themselves, when they're with us?

For further thought:

Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe
with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure
words, but to pour them all out, chaff and grain together,
knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep
what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of
kindness, blow the rest away.

George Eliot

More on friendship.


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