Friendship vs. Acquaintance: more commitment & investment

Friendship vs. Acquaintance: more commitment & investment

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.

The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

Henri J.M. Nouwen, Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life

Making new “acquaintances” is not difficult. This often happens with people we work with – those individuals who know us slightly, but we wouldn’t consider them close confidants.

Acquaintances often share common interests – tv shows and movies, sporting teams, favorite restaurants – but they certainly aren’t those “to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand”.

Making new “friends” is a much different story. Finding individuals whom you not only share common interests, but also can rely on to share your life’s history, sympathize with your struggles and console you when the world weighs heavy on your shoulders can be difficult.

Someone who feels like family when visiting your home – with a level of comfort and familiarity that warms your heart and brings joy to your soul.

Someone you can be yourself around without any pretense, prejudice or worry.

Someone who makes you laugh even when you want to cry, and lets you cry when you need to.

I suspect that many people who say they have “a lot of friends” are confusing them with acquaintances. There’s little investment required to have acquaintances in life; little commitment in terms of time and emotion; little rewards beyond someone to occupy a lonely night.

It can be challenging to make new “friends” – to be willing to share the most intimate details of your life with total strangers. But isn’t that the only way to build a relationship?

“The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson