Dear Jack, I think we tend to confuse friendship with fraternalisation and socialisation. That you fraternise or socialise with someone doesn’t mean he’s your friend. If you don’t segregate social buddies from true friends, you have a huge disappointment coming on.
Even the Bible aggregates friendship into cadres. There are true friends it says. “Friends come and friends go but a true friend sticks by you like family.” (Proverbs 18:24 MSG). In other words if he takes off in your time of trouble – abandons you, he’s not a true friend. If he distances himself from you in your dark hour, he’s not a true friend either. A true friend is loyal. If you ever run into trouble and your “friends” are found wanting, I advice you review your sociology.
The trials of life are friend list editing exercises. And friends don’t seek to destroy each other. If he’s pursuing your ruination he can’t be your friend. According to the NLT, “There are ‘friends’ who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.” Friends are not jealous of each other either. They sharpen the competitive instinct in one another, without jealousy. If you see tendencies of envy in a so called “friend” you better run! Cain slew Abel out of envy! Envy is irrational because sin controls the envious. Sin crouches at their door. Know your true friends!
And you have to be careful about the type of friends you keep. An African apothegm states that the sheep that fellowships with hyenas will develop a taste for the unsavoury. We’re semi-permeable membranes subject to osmotic principle. We imbibe wrong values when exposed to concentrates. In plain English, evil communication corrupts good manners.
Now let me share some realities with you, and some wisdom. Have you ever wondered how politicians can refer to each other as friends yet proceed to stick it to each other? There are “et tu Brute” moments in politics. You can’t easily reconcile yourself to such – unless you’re a politician. I remember watching a prominent politician on TV working hard to truncate the electoral victory of his “friend”. If you’re in the business world you will come across this brand of “friendship”. It’s called “political friendship”. It is totally interest based. Call it friendship of interest. They say in politics there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies. Just permanent interests. Once you understand this operating philosophy you won’t get disappointed. It means someone who blocked your contract yesterday can seek your help tomorrow, without an ounce of shame. When Solomon said friends come and friends go…, he was referring to these kinds of “friends”. They are fair weather friends. The churn rate is high! They come and go. They move in and out of your life.
From Solomon’s statement we see that true friends are always in single digits. Political “friends” are always a plurality. Your relevance is all that matters to political “friends”. If you’re relevant they’ll associate with you. If you’re no longer relevant they just move on. And once your relevance returns they’ll come back to you, like they never left before. That’s the way of the world. Don’t take it personal. Pray God make you relevant and important.
And so for practical purposes we have three types of friendship: There’s social friendship – drink and party buddies. Operates within social context. No real attachment. No depth. There’s “political” friendship. It’s a friendship of self interest. No loyalty there. Then there’s true friendship, in which loyalty is prized and valued.
Recognise these other “friendships” for what they are but don’t imbibe their values. You take cognition of them so you don’t have false expectations and don’t get bitter. Preserve your core. Preserve your values. Fear God. Develop character. Have integrity. Be loyal. You’ll need wisdom to navigate the treacherous terrain of the political and business world. Pray to God for wisdom.
By now you’ll also have noticed there are “politicians” in your workplace. They specialise in eye service. They appropriate other people’s efforts and are very mindful of where the pendulum is swinging. Life demands you relate and negotiate with them but don’t put faith in such people. Watch out for hidden agenda. We all wish the world is made up of saints but it’s not! You have to deal with reality, work with reality.
As for you and your girlfriend it’s important you remain friends. That friendship will determine your marriage. When friendship breaks down in a marriage, pretty much else fail to hold. Friendship is soul glue. A friend sticks, close. (Closer than a brother according to Solomon). Your wife should be glued to you. Let nothing separate you. Not even fights!
Someday the sun, the moon, the stars will be too dim for your old eyes. Someday your legs will start to tremble, your shoulders will stoop. Someday your few remaining teeth will stop grinding, sounds will grow faint. Someday you’ll become fearful of falling, your body fragile; you’ll no longer inspire sexual desire. Someday your hair will turn white, like an almond tree in bloom. Someday…
In those somedays, all you’ll have left is the love and friendship of your wife and the memories of this life.
Your mentor, LA.
© Leke Alder 2014