Speaking on friends ...
by Rob Coombs
Aug 14, 2011 | 1537 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Have you seen the T-shirt? “My wife ran off with my best friend and I sure do miss him?”

Cute. Funny. True?

For many, friendships are more powerful, more meaningful, more worthwhile, than a love relationship. Why?

Although many may speculate as to why this might be true, providing complicated and drawn-out answers, I believe the answer is really quite simple.

Love relationships often speak of “falling in love,” as if the lovers really couldn’t help themselves. “He swept me off my feet.” “She blew me away. I was totally speechless.”

It’s as if there was no choice. We never talk about “falling in friendship.” It just doesn’t happen that way. With friends we choose. We don’t fall.

And what we are most likely to choose is someone who is a whole lot like ourselves — the same values, the same idea of fun, the same hobbies, the same beliefs.

Of course, there are some differences (a Baptist can have a Methodist friend or even a Republican might be a friend with a Democrat), but for the most part friends share similar interests. It’s what we have in common that attracts friends to one another. Usually the more we share in common, the better the friendship.

Friendships are important because they can teach us so much about ourselves. In reality, friendships can tell us more about ourselves than a full-length mirror. Of course, what a friend tells you about yourself depends on the type of friend.

Some friends are like fun-house mirrors: they reflect something back to you, but it's likely to be distorted. Like the fun-house mirror that makes you look short and squatty, some friends try to reduce your problems, your successes, your mistakes by making them appear smaller than they truly are.

Other friends may go to the other extreme. Like the fun-house mirror that stretches you tall and thin, they may enlarge your problems, your successes, your mistakes by making them appear bigger than they truly are.

Other friends are like magnifying mirrors that critically analyze every inch of you, hoping to help you better understand who you are and why you do the things you do. Such friends can help you to see the things you don’t see yourself.

Some friends are like dark mirrors that only reflect the gloomy side of life by always focusing on the negative, giving you the reality of the situation no matter how pessimistic it might be, while other friends are overly sensitive to the light and give a reflection that is too optimistic, too naive.

Occasionally, we find a friend that gives us an accurate reflection. Those are the friendships to treasure. They have the courage to be honest and caring at the same time. Such friends make life infinitely more worthwhile.

All friends, regardless of the type, give us the potential to better understand ourselves. For growth, both spiritually and emotionally, we need good mirrors.

George Herbert in 1651 said it best: “The best mirror is an old friend.”

He was right. Old friends are usually the best. They understand and accept our weakness and strengths as they have stood by us through thick and thin and so can become our best mirrors.

We all need these mirrors. Thank goodness we can choose the mirror we want and disregard the rest.