Being Faithful to Friends

Last Sunday night I met David Swanson over at Medici on 57th.  We took a table in the bakery side.  The smell of tomorrow’s croissants wafted over our heads, and our necks and eyes jerked toward the huge oven behind the wall of that day’s bread-now-sold. 

I sipped a cup of something called pearlicious, an intriguing herbal tea, and he had an almond herbal tea.  We caught up after several weeks of him being too busy to talk to me.  We bounced around the usual topics. 

Since we both serve at New Community, we inevitably discussed church.  We talked about some things we had heard regarding a prominent pastor who’s been in the news lately, finding time to reflect and grieve and wonder.  We talked about writing and blogging.  We talked about our children and being fathers and how when we went to President Obama’s inauguration, it was the last time the four of us (he, me, and our wives) were in the car together before bright sons entered our worlds.  

I talked about the boy and how he’s adjusting to me, how I’m adjusting to him.  At one point in the conversation David asked me, “Would I be correct to say that you’re feeling better about fatherhood these days?”

My answer was quick.  “Yes.”

The answer was quick, but David Swanson knows that these months have been long for me.  He’s been the recipient of enough conversations about my parenting and my questions and my son and all my concerns to fill every bread bin at Medici.  He knew that my quick yes had not come quickly.

David was exhibiting a quality I get spoiled with in several friendships, and that is faithfulness.  He, like other friends–some of whom I’ve mentioned on the blog–ask me tough questions and expect honest answers. 

Being faithful in a friendship is a prerequisite to being faithful in every aspect of life.  When you’re a friend to someone you practice truth-telling.  You make promises to that friend that you’ll tell the truth, that you’ll present your best opinions carefully, even if it hurts them to hear it.  You make a promise to that person that you’ll work in that relationship for their best.  Best might not be easy.  Best might mean you stop speaking for a time.  Best might be too heavy to rest upon the relationship you’ve built, breaking what you have.  But that’s the risk of promising to be someone’s friend.  You promise that you’ll be there, present, with the best truth you can create for him or her no matter what.

If I were to say to David that night, “No, I still think I’m unqualified for this.  I still have the same worries and questions and strange feelings,” David’s faithfulness would stretch into another episode of telling me that I was fine, that I was ready, that I was a good father, that I’d get better at the new weird adjustment which is fatherhood.  And that would be him being faithful. 

What do you think faithfulness means in a friendship?  Share if you’d like.


6 thoughts on “Being Faithful to Friends

  1. To me, faithfulness in a friendship consists of a sustained desire to develop a clear understanding and acceptance of the other person as they are, combined with a sincere desire to support what they become as time passes.

    • Byron, you make a good point. I think you’re on to something since friendship is often restricted to the person we knew rather than the person we continue to know. It’s probably easier to limit the desire because it’ll stay in the past tense, which makes it easier to end friendships when the person becomes something we don’t like, no?

  2. Faithfulness in a friendship is truth telling balanced with love. And forgiveness towards each other when the other person fails. It is continual communication and being able to agree to disagree. It is treating the other person as you would like to be treated. It is encouraging a friend and giving him wise advice when he is weak.
    I’m a Christian in my thirties and I only have one friend who is consistent in these ways, he is a true friend. I’m not sure why I don’t have more friends like him………have I mistakenly invested too much in non-Believers instead of building a Christian bubble for myself? Are my expectations too high? Am I a poor friend? Either way, I’m thankful for him, the one friend.
    I’m also thankful for Jesus, my second friend, who has taught me to love rather than seek to be loved. This is what keeps me sane and hopeful.

  3. JCreigns, these are clear qualities for friends, and there’s much to live up to in your words. I think your position as far as having friends who are Christian and not is more enviable than less. Thanks for the comment.

  4. One of your finest posts, Michael. Perhaps it’s on account of our similar life situations. Perhaps it’s because I love truth telling friends so much. Thank you for putting such beautiful words to things.

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