As the years have gone by, I have been beyond blessed to experience friendships that have changed my life. Like Emily and Michele so beautifully detail in The Friendship Project, these friends have come in many different sizes and shapes, from those that have formed due to familial connections to those that have blossomed out of challenging circumstances. Some friends and I have walked together on our journeys for a short time before our paths led us in different directions, while others have continued to be my support system and strength to this day.
However, as illustrated in Emily’s story regarding the nail technician and her customer, so many today do not understand the true nature of friendship. The culture of self-centeredness and relativism has found its way to the very core of relationships, acting as dark-colored glasses that blind us to what is true and good as children of God. Adding to this are the increasingly fast-paced lifestyles that allow us to accept a facade of friendship that withers in the face of any real test or challenge.
Michele and Emily have hit the nail on the head when they discuss the need to reflect on the part that we, ourselves, play in the friendships that we claim to have. This book has reminded me to ask myself, As a child of God, am I being the friend that God calls me to be? As the authors point out, St. Augustine strongly asserted that “In this world, two things are essential: life and friendship. Both should be highly prized and we must not undervalue them.” He understood the value that God Himself has placed on friendship as a building block in forming the Body of Christ, His Community of Love. Understanding this, am I taking my part in building this community seriously?
Choosing to be a good friend has a unique effect on the world. Not only does this choice provide the opportunity for great growth in virtue for our own souls, but it allows the fruits of these virtues to extend not only to the friendships we have made but to the world as well. As The Friendship Project so beautifully illustrates, the lives of many saints, like Gertrude and Matilda, are perfect examples of this extension, and it would do our souls good to read more of their stories to grow in appreciation and understanding as to the effect that virtuous friendships can have on the world.
During the Introduction and Chapter One, I found myself questioning my own response to God’s call to true friendship, and I rested on several thoughts:
- I am a Child of God, and this truth brings with it a call to emulate the perfect witness of friendship He has given me: Himself.
- The call to being a true friend provides a unique opportunity to grow in virtue. Living a life of faith can be incredibly challenging, but the special gift of friendship promotes the perfect seedbed for faith to be cultivated and to mature.
- Since friendships rooted in God are a “foretaste of heaven,” I should be excited to work on my relationships! This should also motivate me to resist the urge to back down when a friend is reluctant or refuses to allow God into our relationship.
These two chapters in The Friendship Project give us plenty to chew on. What thoughts are ruminating in you?
To Ponder, Reflect and Discuss:
- I need to take a moment and consider the friendships in my life. Upon reflection, can I think of any that need improvement on my side of the relationship? Can I honestly say that I am being a true friend?
- How can developing a life of faith be cultivated through my friendships? Where can I find examples of faith development that have already taken place in my relationships?
- Chapter One provides a list of beautiful suggestions entitled “Friendship in Progress: Developing and Deepening Friendships of Faith.” Which of these suggestions can I incorporate into my existing friendships? Which can I use to develop new ones?
See the video for this week’s chapter, plus download a printable journal and more at The Friendship Project Group Study page.
Next week, we’re reading Chapter Two: Holding on to Hope. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit The Friendship Project Book Club page.
Copyright 2017 Christina Nagy