Friendship has been by far one of the greatest blessings in my life. I agree with the spiritual writer, Alice Camille, who says that friendship should be named the eighth sacrament.
Why is friendship so important for our spiritual life? First of all, friends support and encourage us. As Camille says, “If you’ve got a friend, you’ve got a port in every storm.” When I was ill a few years back, my friends came to my aid. They called me, wrote notes, sent emails, prayed for me, drove me to the doctor, and offered to come over and give me a back rub or just sit with me.
But good friends do more than encourage us. They challenge us. A good friend can be honest with us if they see us heading in the wrong direction. Sometimes they challenge us with words. But most often friends challenge us simply by the witness of their own good example. When I see my friends dealing with the stresses and problems of everyday life, I am inspired to face my own challenges with greater courage and equanimity.
Friends also broaden our perspective. Although we probably share some of the same interests with our friends, most friends are different enough from us to make our relationship interesting. My friends, for example, have taken me to movies I might not have chosen to see, suggested books I might never have picked up, and taught me about things I knew little about—like the evils of human trafficking, the joys and challenges of parenting, the raising of sheep, and how to make plum dumplings.
Friends also make it easier to believe that we are loved by God. Good friends know us very well. They know our strengths and our weaknesses—and yet they still love us. Somehow they can overlook our failings and focus on our gifts. Their friendship proclaims, “I like being with you!” What greater compliment can we receive? I like to think that God loves me chiefly through my friends. Their attention, hugs, encouragement, and laughter are all ways God is saying, “I get a kick out of you!”
Who are some of your good friends? Why?
How important has friendship been in your life?