What Does It Cost to Be a Friend?
'Rare as is true love, true friendship is rarer.' - Jean De La Fontaine
What does it cost to be a friend? Five dollars? Ten dollars? Or, maybe $1,000,000? Fact of the matter is that we cannot pay for everything in this world with a green piece of printed government paper. The answer to this question is not measured in dollar signs, but in certain actions. In reading a book titled What is Worthwhile by Anna Robertson Brown Lindsay, I discovered an answer to this question that I feel must be shared. In the book, Lindsay states that the cost of friendship is:
The Latin root of the word discipline means teaching or learning; the current definition means to train to improve strength or self-control. In friendships, we must learn discipline because—just like we are not perfect—our friends are not perfect as well. We must “learn” to understand and accept them for who they are, in addition to “teaching” them how we would like to be treated. In doing so, our bond will grow stronger. However, this process is not an easy one; even more, some friendships dissolve during this process, but if we persevere, then we can reap the benefits of one of the sweetest gifts of life: true friendship.
Ah, time! One of the currencies of life; and just like currency, it seems like we never have enough of it. For that reason, we realize how valuable it is to us. Friendships do not happen in just one day; they happen over time. Since time is precious, we are really selective of what and who we spend it with. We need to have shared experiences with a person and experience them in various settings in order to get a feel for how that person is. This can only be accomplished in spending time with them. In spending time with this person, we begin to learn the person; and as we learn them, our bond grows stronger.
Time, to me, is a major indicator of how strong a friendship is. The longer a friendship has been maintained the deeper the relationship. I personally believe that if two people have spent a significant amount of time together, they are less likely to break apart from each other; dissolution only occurs when the two have been away from each other for a long time and have had no further shared experiences with each other anymore. For example, I know we all had that one friend who we were close with in middle school or high school, but after graduation, the closeness of the friendship gradually dissolved because of the demands of the real world. Consequently, we began to spend less and less time with them until our memories drifted into evanescence. This example shows how important time is to a friendship and why we should spend a little time each day with our friend (or friends), whether we call them for five minutes, or we go out to brunch. Every minute counts!
Affection is defined as a positive liking for someone or something. Normally when we have feelings for someone, we have a fond attachment to them—meaning we love to be around them and are constantly thinking of them. We tend to be protective of them—because we protect those who we value; we possess a high level of respect for them; and, we have a soft spot for them—they are the ones who we are comfortable being vulnerable. They have seen us at our best and our worst. For these people, we would go to the moon and back, maybe even further if you catch us in the right mood. Interestingly though, there are some of us who have a friend (or friends) in our life who we have all the aforementioned feelings for, but we fail to express our affection to them. This could be due to the fact of our own negligence or because our way of expressing our affection isn’t the way that our friend receives affection. Whatever the case, I recommend two things. First, you and your friend should take the love language test together to understand how the both of you best express and receive affection. Secondly, I recommend that we get into the habit of expressing our affection for our friends, if we are not already doing it.
Patience etymological definition means suffering, and that is exactly what patience seems to be—suffering. However, it is not aimless suffering; it is suffering for a purpose. The purpose is normally much further on down the line, but it is important. In our case, we “suffer” for our friend. And for that reason, we must develop our patience because there will be many times that our friends will do things that get under our skin and have us asking: why? However, I am sure that we do things that make our friends ask the same question. In order to be effective in honing our patience, we must do a few things. First, we have to understand our friend because when you understand a person, you know why they do what they do. Secondly, we have to accept our friend for who they are—good, bad, and indifferent; and once we learn to understand and accept them, we must learn to tolerate their undesirable traits (to a reasonable extent of course), so that the friendship can endure the test of time.
Love is a deep and intense feeling that we possess for someone. The Greeks referred to the type of love that exist between two friends as Philia (friendly love). Naturally, in order for us to consider someone a friend, we would have to possess a deep and intense love for them. There is no way in the world that a regular person would be tolerant, accepting, understanding, or willing to spend time with a person that they do not love—in the Greek sense of the word. In the words of Aristotle, “only the lovable can be loved,” and we love those who bring us pleasure and peace of mind.
There are few things in life that we have to commit to for life. True friendship is something that we have to be in for the long run; it takes a lifetime. I find the field of anthropology interesting because it enlightens you on how diverse the world is, especially in regard to how different cultures view friendship. It seems like in the United States, we view friendship lightly. Often, I find it quite disheartening how quickly and easily some people say things like, “friends come and go.” Whereas, in certain cultures, two friends perform a ritual that is ceremonious of their friendship and bonds the two together for life. I believe that in the United States, we should perform rituals that give testaments to our friendships and show that we are committed to them, just our rituals that give testament to our romantic love for another. Would you participate in a ceremony that shows your commitment to your friend (or friends)?
Last of all, but certainly not least, in order to be a great friend, we may have to think less of solely ourselves and sometimes even have to sacrifice. Disclaimer: sacrifice does not mean that you give up something and get nothing in return; it means to give up something for the sake of a bigger cause—in this case, its friendship. Of course, no friendship should put you in a situation where you have to make a sacrifice that you are not comfortable with. In thinking of friends, we are really looking after ourselves because our act of sacrifice engenders a sense of loyalty, indebtedness, and appreciation that makes them want to have our backs. So moving forward today, let us think a little less about ourselves, and a little more of the ones who really have our back.
Before, I end this article I want to give the readers a gift: an excerpt from the book What is Worthwhile. This excerpt is a reflection of my belief of what friendship is:
“Let us lay hold of friendship. In the eternal life
shall we not have friends forevermore?
I used to think that friendship meant happiness:
I have learned that it means discipline.
Seek how we may, we shall never find a friend
without faults, imperfections,
traits, and ways that vex, grieve, annoy us.
Strive as we will,
we ourselves can never fully fulfill the ideal of us
that is in our friend's mind: we inevitably
come short of it.
Yet let us not give up friendship,
though we have found this true.
To have a friend is to have one of the sweetest gifts that life can bring:
to be a friend is to have a solemn and tender education of soul from
day to day.
A friend gives us confidence for life.
A friend makes us outdo ourselves.
A friend remembers us when we have forgotten ourselves,
or neglected ourselves:
they take loving heed of
our health, our work, our aims, our plans.
A friend may praise us, and we are not embarrassed;
they may rebuke us, and we are not angered.
If he be silent, we understand.
It takes a great soul to be a true friend, — a large,
catholic, steadfast, and loving spirit.
One must forgive much, forget much, forbear much.
It costs to be a friend, or to have a friend: there
is nothing else in life, except motherhood, that
costs so much. It not only costs time, affection,
strength, patience, love, — sometimes a person
must even lay down their life for their friends.
There is no true friendship without self-abnegation, self-sacrifice.
Let us be slow to make friends, but, having
once made them, let us pray that neither life nor
death, misunderstanding, distance, nor doubt,
may ever come between us, to vex our peace.
Let us be patient, let us be kindly, let us be
self-possessed in friendship. There are so many
ways of grieving a friend, — shall we not walk
softly before them ? Let us be true to our friends,
and then believe that they are and ever will
be true to us. True love never nags; it trusts.
One of the dearest thoughts to me is this, —
that a real friend will never get away from me,
nor try to, nor want to. Love does not have to be
tethered, either in time or eternity.
It is a great and solemn thing to say to
another human soul. In this one life that we
have to live, we will share all things temporal
and spiritual. Your joys shall be my joys.
Your sorrows shall be my sorrows. In absence
you shall yet be near. You shall never be so
far from me but that I can hear your voice in
the twilight and in the night-season. Though
land and sea divide us, you shall yet walk by
my side and kneel with me in prayer; still I
shall feel the touch of your hand, and rejoice in
your sympathy. Your letters shall make me
strong and glad. I am not afraid of you.
With you I need not be too greatly reserved.
To you I may speak the deep thoughts of my
heart. With you alone I laugh; with you only
may I shed tears and be not ashamed. To you
only can I say, " Behold, here am I, an undisguised human soul: all others
know me in some
one mood, — you know me in all moods."
In the eternal life we may make new friends:
I dare say we shall. But can those radiant,
perfect, and glorified ones ever be quite so near
and dear to us as those more human souls that
we have known when they, like ourselves, were
but struggling, aspiring, and suffering mortals;
those who have shared joy and pain with us,
who have watched us wistfully over mountain,
wilderness, and sea, who have quarreled with
us and kissed us again, who have loved us with
tenderness, and who have been faithful to us,
even unto death? Meetings and partings,
hand-clasps and farewells, loving nearness and
grieving tears, — these are the lot of friendship
on earth. But in eternity there shall be neither weeping nor any sound of sighing, and
there shall be no parting there.”
--Anna Robertson Brown Lindsay
If you enjoyed this article, then make sure that you also read another article titled Stages of Friendship. Also, feel free to be a friend and send me a contribution--eh, eh, eh (wink, wink).
About the author
I am just your everyday college student pursuing a degree in Professional Writing, while trying to keep his head above water. The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement. I really like this quote :)