You Have A Friend In Me

You Have a Friend IN Me

Clark Ford- Speaker

Feb. 3,2019

Friends come in all shapes and sizes, all ages, genders, ethnic groups, even species.  Friends share our lives with us: our joys, adventures, struggles, ideas, interests.  They laugh at our jokes.  They listen to us.  They pull pranks with us.
These two boys decided to play a trick on their teacher.  They cut their hair the same so she couldn’t tell them apart!
We need friends in our lives.  Their joy brings us joy.  We relate to the portrayal of good friends or best friends: Laverne and Shirley, Laurel and Hardy
Sometimes people you would never expect to be friends find a common bond.
The bond of friendship is sometimes so deep that people may be willing to sacrifice their life for their friends.
And life without friends can be so grim, some people cope by making up a friend.  Just someone to talk to who understands…
Sometimes friends come in threes
Or fours
Or more
For many people, their best friend is a companion animal.  Animals are sensitive, intuitive, caring, and attentive, all traits we value in friendships.
People can bond with all kinds of animals. 
Sometimes even dogs bond with cats.
How do you make a friend?  Be a friend.  One way that I have rekindled friendships and made new friends is online.  I met my wife and best friend, Debi, on line.
Through social media I am now in touch with several of my high school friends from California that I have not seen in decades.  We share our lives online.  One of my friends is an artist who shares her art
One friend who I only know online, who I have never met  in person, has shared the sadness and anguish of losing his best friend, his dog, and the healing that slowly followed.  Eventually he got a new dog.  Here he is meeting his new best friend for the first time.
Sometimes our friends are on the other team.  Yet no matter how hard we play against them on the field, they are our friends and are important to us.  Which brings us to football!
Happy Superbowl Sunday!
     I have a confession to make, involving football.   I skipped out on the Annual Meeting a couple of weeks ago in order to spend time with a friend.  Oh, I felt guilty, you better believe it.  Especially since my name was on the ballot for the Board of Directors that you all voted on at that meeting.
But spending time with my friend was a higher priority for me.  There was a schedule conflict.  At the same time as the Annual Meeting, the NFL had scheduled the Playoff game between New England and San Diego.
     Yes, I skipped out on church to be with a friend to watch football.  Heres why:  All fall, and in fact for years prior, my friend and I have talked about watching football together.  Mostly it never happened because of busy schedules and work pressures.  But In late summer my friend was diagnosed with lung cancer, and by December the first round of chemotherapy treatments were over, making the long awaited watching of football together finally possible.
      Since December, we have watched football together when we could, with hightened anticipation of the playoffs.   I knew I would be rooting for New England, and my friend would…NOT.  We looked forward to battling it out as couch potato fans in that first New England playoff game.  It was like the culmination of years of creating a reality, only to have the NFL schedule it at a bad time.  Divine order was putting my values to the test.  I chose friendship.
     Is friendship THAT important?  In a word, YES.  How does friendship stack up against other kinds of relationships in our life?  Sometimes friendships are more important than relationships with siblings, extended family, or evem marriage.  Let me explain:
     My wife is my best friend.  I wouldn’t want to be married to someone I wasn’t friends with.  Our love for each other grows out of our friendship, and is constantly nurtured by our friendship.   If our friendship died, I think our marriage would soon be over.   I am guessing that is exactly what happens to many marriages that end in divorce.  The friendship fades. And that’s all she wrote…
      What about family?    I confess I have some famliy members that I am not particularly close to.  I did not choose them to be in my life, and we share little in common.  Those family members that I do value, I value because of my friendship with them, a freindshp that has developed over shared experiences and interests.
Family relationships can grow into great friendships.   But the inverse can also happen: friends can become family.  A family you have chosen.  A family who understands and can relate to you.  A family who likes you for who you are.  Period.
 One of the beauties of friendship is that we generally don’t expect our friends to meet all our needs.   We don’t necessarily feel we have to dump all over friends when our expectations are not met.    And so we often treat our friends better than we do family or spouses.  After all, we want our friends to like us.  And they don’t have to!
     Friendships can range from superficial aquaintences to deep meaningful relationships that involve caring, trust, commitment, and love.   The greeks called this love “Philia” or brotherly love.  The way I see it, Philia stands at the center of all the other forms of love.
      Eros, or passionate love, can mature into Philia to keep a romantic relationship alive after the passion fades.   Agape, or divine unconditional love, can also be nurtured by  Philia.  Friendship is often a more unconditional relationship  than family or marriage bonds.  It is thus the perfect  kind of relationship in which to nurture the unconditional divine love of Agape.  And as the song says, What a Friend we have in Jesus.
     So, having friends gives us an incredible opportunity to learn the lessons of love:  Giving unconditionally, forgiveness, caring, being there for someone else, compassion, listening.  Learning these lessons of love is the reason we are on earth, in this material plane,  and friendships are our classroom.