I heard Desmond Tutu state that we need other people to be fully human.
“None of us comes into the world fully formed. We would not know how to think, or walk, or speak, or behave as human beings unless we learned it from other human beings. We need other human beings in order to be human. I am because other people are. A person is entitled to a stable community life, and the first of these communities is the family.” Source
I extend that to friends. We need them. We need community. I’m sorry but Vicki Winans was wrong when she sand, “As long as I got King Jesus, I don’t need nobody else.”
On the surface, that may seem correct. A relationship with Jesus is the most important one you will ever have. However, is it the only one you need? Let’s delve a little further into the lyrics.
“I’ve been lied on, cheated, talked about, mistreated
I’ve been used, scorned, talked about sore as bone
I’ve been up, down, almost to the ground.”
Now this sounds like emotional trauma. That is a danger of becoming close to someone. They have the proximity to hurt you. The opposite is also true. Letting someone know the real you can be a mutual enjoyable relationship. Great conversation, a safe place to vent, someone to cheer you on when you doubt yourself. Friendship has its benefits.
The bible has many verses on the value of friendship.
A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for a time of adversity. Proverbs 17:17
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. Eccl. 4:9-10
I never really noticed this part of the verse until writing this post. ” . . . because they have a good return for their labor.” We work so hard to accomplish things solo when we could achieve exponentially more working together.
There are people who prefer solitude. There is scientific evidence that loners become overstimulated in social situations or in crowds. I postulate something different. Individuals thrive in authentic community. Past experiences with betrayal or disappointment can sour someone on the idea of friendship. Solitude in this instance is a trauma response. I believe this is why social media is so popular. It allows people to connect while simultaneously maintaining distance.
” . . . there seems to be a cap on the number of friends a person’s brain can handle, and it takes actual social interaction (not virtual) to keep up these friendships. So feeling like you’re being social by being on Facebook doesn’t work. Since loneliness is linked to myriad health and mental health problems (including early death), getting real social support is important. Virtual friend time doesn’t have the therapeutic effect as time with real friends.” Source
Herein lies the rub. Friendship takes effort. You have to care about another’s well-being. You have to call them. Make plans for lunch or to workout together. Each friend serves a different role in your life and that is okay. Not every friend is someone you can call at 3:00 am when you are in a crisis, but maybe you have one that is. Not every friend is a spiritually-rooted, prayer warrior, but if you have one that is, you are blessed.
Make the effort. Say hello. Share a bit of yourself. Make a friend.