One of the things we human beings do on a regular basis, naturally and spontaneously is to start friendships or relationships. We therefore relate or forge relationships as relatives, schoolmates, neighbours, peers, acquaintances and playmates. This comes about easily because God, our creator ‘‘wired’’ us that way. As it is often said and rightly so, “we are social beings by nature not by choice.’’ We feel the urge to reach out to others and in so doing make contacts. Usually, this marks the start of a journey and relationship with others.
Humans on a journey to a healthy, Christ like Godly relationship have to frankly, sincerely and honestly accept, be patient with themselves first before accepting and being patient with their future friends. In order for a healthy Christ like friendship to grow, develop, stabilize and pass the test of time by withering the storms encountered along the way, several sacrifices have to be made.
What are the necessary ‘’ingredients’’ of a healthy Christ-like friendship relationship?
A relationship without regular honest communication whether near or distant is as good as dead. Put otherwise, communication is the bone and marrow of every healthy relationship worth the name. Thank God the present modern technology has made this possible through: phones, email, twitter, WhatsApp, instagram, you name it. God started the best relationship with us His children by first communicating with us not only through His prophets (mouth pieces) BUT through Jesus Christ His Beloved Son. We are challenged to emulate His example.
Persons intending to become healthy friends need to create time for each other in spite of their possible hectic (busy) schedules. They have to avail themselves for each other. It is imperative that they meet physically, regularly so as to spend quality time together talking and listening to each other. This practice if observed, often times helps them to further bind, bond and cement their relationship, especially when they meet problems. Praying together regularly is a big help and support in the mentioned relationship. While jointly lifting themselves to God, they not only invite Him to lead and guide them, but implore Him for his protection, assistance, strength, integral healing, blessings and enlightenment etc.
There is power in prayer. A prayerful friend is like a reliable bridge to walk across a place of security to run to in face of threats. Close proximity to God is realized through daily prayer. People of all denominations have prayers which help them to connect to God and communicate with Him, nurture, sustain their relationship with God. When friends in a healthy relationship gather to pray, we believe God is always present in their company. I have often times heard adults or even teenagers trained or schooled by experience say that ‘‘Life is not a bed of roses.’’ I guess they mean that in life one meets ups and downs. Along the road; friends or potential ones should tuck in their sleeves and prepare for thick and thin days.
Humps, bumps, corners, mountains, valleys, straight surfaces comprise or are part of the road, the two friends should be ready to face. I would be unrealistic if I said that their journey will always be smooth, straight, pleasant. Because friends are made up of blood and water, they are bound to at times unintentionally hurt each other’s feelings. Forewarned is foretold, my friends. In my language (rutooro) we say ‘‘Ekiija omanyire kitwaara bike.’’ Friends have of necessity to be ready to forgive each other as soon as misunderstandings are felt or come up.
Again, this is not as easy as it sounds. One person put it this way. ‘‘To make a mistake is human, to forgive is divine.’’ Unless God aids the grieving or disgruntled, forgiveness remains an unrealizable dream. Whether one apologizes or doesn’t, forgiveness should not be delayed or withheld!! Jesus on the cross left us an example to follow: Luke 23:34 St Steven the proto- martyr did the same: Acts 7:59-60.
Real genuine healthy friends need to regularly evaluate their friendship objectively and sincerely, then map out the way forward. They should entrust the past to God’s incredible ever abiding mercy, the future to His ever available providence and the present to His ongoing unconditional help or support.
Good friends have a noble duty of refraining from being a stumbling block to each other in their relationship which has the sole aim of assisting them to become like Christ and consequently, to attain Holiness. All their efforts, energies and gifts should be geared towards this. The best thing they can do for each other is always to keep Jesus in focus and together walk towards Him. Consoling and comforting to hear, God always grants to such friends His Graces.
According to me and perhaps you as well, a true honest friend is indeed a gift sent by God (God-sent) to help us journey steadily towards Him. He/she should not be taken for granted, His /Her main responsibility is to help us grow in our relationship with ourselves and God. Such a person (friend) should therefore be respected, recognized, let alone appreciated.
Jesus Christ our model, norm (standard) in all things had many good friends on earth notably among others; the apostles, Mother Mary and guardian Joseph, Mary, Martha, Lazarus. By his life (word and example), he taught us the value of friendship. He rightly said that we are his friends not slaves. May he bless, protect and strengthen our current friendships. May he help those searching to find real, honest, genuine friends. Thank you Jesus for being our best friend!
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