Friendship is a relationship between two or more friends. It is systematic in nature, a process that enables one to know the other person more deeply and also give you the opportunity to relate well despite the differences. It grows gradually as it helps us to be more aware of our true selves either positive or negative. It is a bond of connectivity we share with our loved ones. Friendship has no limitation, once it is established it continue to spread, it is a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an acquaintance or an associate. It promotes communication and brings about good character. It is healthy because it helps to improve one’s personal life. Those who engage in good friendship are grateful to God because it is a gift. Many people benefit from this due to its positive effect on one’s life. Life is too short to be lived without a good companion. Those who never engage in friendship will suffer depression all because they have no one to share their pains with. Sharing with one another is a powerful pillar that holds the foundation of friendship. In fact friendship is a gift. Friendship is the combination of two or more friends for the purpose of helping to better their lives. Friendship is built on common values and principles because it is the bedrock of relationships. Friends are those we know well and like to always relate with but are not related to us by blood. Friends may add more value to one’s life that is, friends can either build you up or break you down, it depends on the type of friends you keep. There is a popular saying “show me your friend and I will tell you who you are”. Your friend determines how the society sees you. If you are good, look for good people to befriend but if you are bad then you can follow your kind because bad company corrupts good manners. Some persons are good in themselves but bad friends end up destroying them. When you have a friend, it will help you to open up to some extent. It will not be possible for everybody to know you; more so, it is not good for many to know you too well to the level that you have no secret or privacy to keep. Everybody cannot be your friend because our temperaments are not the same. Before you call someone your friend, you should be able to know at least 60% of his character, in case of anything your friend should be able to defend you.
Moreover, before you can call somebody your friend it means that both of you have been able to share your fears, weaknesses, strengths, failures and successes. It must be a fellow you can rely on in days of sorrow or pain. Good friends are treasured. We should keep and maintain them, many at times they become instruments in the hands of God to save us from danger. A typical example of this kind of friend can be found in the book of 1 Samuel 20:1-5, 12-24, 27, 31-42. Here we see in the story of David and Jonathan how these boys were good friends to each other, share moments together and were truthful to each other. It got to a point when Saul was planning secretly to kill David out of jealousy; Johnathan ran quickly and told his friend the secret plot of his father. Only a good friend can act like this. Johnathan was more of a brother than an ordinary friend. Their bond was strong and they loved each other. Often times the presence of a good friend brings out the good in us. Not everyone will be your friend and friendship is not by force so it is what we must discern carefully before choosing.
There are different kinds of friends; this is the more reason we need to do proper discernment before choosing. Some people were implicated by their so-called friends and today they are in prison. Some so-called friends are envious in nature to the extent that they do not wish their friends to do well; they are consistent in giving their friends wrong advice, telling them to do what they themselves cannot do. This kind of friend is bad and their true colours are yet to be shown. These set of friends are enemies in disguise. In fact, they are called frenemies. They pretend to laugh with you in your presence but at your back they will stab or laugh at you. They will never advice you to do anything good; their aim is to secretly look for your down fall. Friendship of this kind is not a good one. Another type of friend is the “user”. By user I mean one who is not really in a relationship with you but is close to you because of what they stand to gain and is only close to you when they need you. It is a selfish friendship that has nothing to offer instead they are like parasites to the host. They will always feed on the other for self-gain. They will use and dump you especially when they are no longer gaining anything. They do not share serious bond with you other than to call when he or she needs help. These people will continue to be on your neck and can even go an extra to get a particular favour; they can even lie for as long as they are able to get what they want. They are ready to use their friends to climb to the top.
There is a third type of friendship that is very bad. This kind of relationship has nothing to offer because it is mainly for the destruction of a person. How do you recognise this type of bad friendships? You do so by assessing your friend. The way they talk, the advice they give and the type of life they live. They are not concerned about the feelings of the other person because they do not care for Christian virtues. Their focus is on how to gain cheap popularity which often makes them destroy and abandon people. A typical example is a person that introduces a new friend to smoking of hard drugs and due to the fact that the friend had a light brain, the smoking drove him mad, the person decided to avoid him because he no longer needs him. This type of friendship is very dangerous because it has nothing to offer than destruction and condemnation. No gain.
Finally, Jesus said “I do not call you servant, for a servant does not know what his Master has. But I call you friends, for all things that I have heard from my father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). Jesus, while on earth, had disciples. He went further to call them friends to show how close they were to him. But despite the closeness, one of his disciples he called friend betrayed him, another denied him. Still he also had the opportunity of having a friend among them, St. John of the Cross, who stayed with him even at the foot of the cross. Not everyone has the opportunity of getting a good friend. If you have gotten one, be happy but if not, do not make a fuss about it.
Since we have identified the various types of friendship, be careful. Fake friendship is everywhere. Watch out!
Sr Margret Ogbebor SSMA is a Catholic Nun, working in the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto. She is the Head Teacher of St Martin de Porres Nursery and Primary School Katsina. [email protected]