There have been many times in my life where I wonder if I’m still friends with someone because we haven’t talked in “a while” or I feel distant from her because I see what she does on social media and that I wasn’t part of it. So the thoughts start of “well maybe we aren’t as good of friends as I thought.”
Here’s what typically happens.
If I sense that distance and don’t receive a reciprocal reach-out from a friend, I give the friend space and see what she does with it. If there’s no proactive reach-out, then I know where it stands. We make an effort for what we want, whether that’s subconscious or not. People show you how they care, what they think or feel, with their actions.
But what is the difference between a friend needing space and someone who is, honestly, just a shitty friend?
Someone who doesn’t know how to be a good, consistent, loyal, truth-telling friend and someone who does know all those things but chooses not to be?
Where does grace come into that?
In response, I really like how the Jesuits view friendship: it is something to be held lightly in the palm of one’s hand. But the tighter the grip, the harder it is for the friendship to flourish. Sometimes friends are in your life for a season, sometimes for life. Sometimes, that means letting go of the potential tight-knit friendship you see in someone.
The Jesuits also believe:
- Part of friendship is giving the other person the freedom to grow and change, the desire for friendship should not overshadow the friend
- “The danger is that because people will move, or leave, or even die, you are tempted not to give your heart to people.”
- You have to let your friend be a friend to you, sometimes it is more difficult to receive
- It’s important for you to take the first step. “And it also may seem that most people have to spend their lives giving more than receiving. But at the end . . . even with all the work that is involved, even if you only find one friend in your whole life, it’s worth it.”
- “Friendship is a blessing in any life. For believers it is also one of the ways God communicates God’s own friendship.”
John Martin, Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything
So. A prayerful, mindfully open palm extended toward others for the intention of friendship. That’s the gospel. That’s grace.