Friendship. Not a small idea!
Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (ESV)
Merriam-Webster defines friendship as: the state of being friends, the relationship between friends, a friendly feeling or attitude, kindness or help given to someone. The obsolete meaning is “aid.”
Blood Is Supposed to Be Thicker Than Water.
I saw my mom huddled over in the corner, crying almost uncontrollably. I asked her what was making her so sad, and although grief had her hostage, she did her best to explain that she had lost a very good friend.
I gently touched her on the shoulder, sat beside her, and asked if she meant that her friend had died. She said, no, that a conflict between my dad and her friend’s husband had caused the death of this most valued relationship between my mom and her dear friend.
We sat and talked for a while, and soon I learned another relevant lesson. It was then that she said to me, “Blood is supposed to be thicker than water.”
She went on to decode this truth: she had believed the strong bond she had with her friend was unbreakable, especially because she had been so loyal to her girlfriend and protected her when her girlfriend’s husband was abusive to her girlfriend so when it came time for her friend to fight for their friendship, her friend had chosen to stand beside her husband.
At the time I thought “blood is thicker than water” meant that if someone had to choose between a family member who was not a good friend or a loyal friend who was not family by blood, that person would always choose family. But what it really means is that even our own family ties, or “water from the womb,” should not be the determining decision as to whom one should be loyal to.
An example of that loyalty is in times past there was a ceremonial custom of mixing blood. Two people would each make a small cut on one hand, to slightly draw blood, and then shake hands so as to seal the bond; in doing so, they were forming a covenant to treat one another as blood brothers. This signified an everlasting alliance. In simple terms, it meant this blood relationship was thicker or more substantial than just sharing the same DNA with someone. Hence the saying, “The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.”
Later in life, when I had my own experiences of losing friends I thought I would have for life, I came to understand the pain my mom felt and the fear that argued to her over the loss of her friend and that void would never be filled again.
As an adult, I have opened my heart, my home, my wallet, and my mind to share all that I had with people I presumed to be my blood comrades, only to receive a meager return. And when I saw how those same individuals gave to their family members, though they were treated unkindly by them, my mom’s face came to mind and I recalled the pain in her heart that was now mine.
I didn’t want to give up on people and be a loner, but I knew I had to develop a higher concept of relationships, so as I usually do when challenges arise, I searched for the highest solution by turning wholeheartedly to prayer. I continued to search for a greater understanding of love, and it became clear to me that love is meant to be shared, exchanged, and felt—we are not to withhold its splendor.
I read, I studied, and I pondered, finding precious pearls of wisdom; one idea came from the gospel of Matthew 12:46-48 “While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. 47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. 48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?” (KJV)
I searched for a deeper understanding of this and found Matthew Henry’s commentary, “His mother and brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him, when they should have been standing within, desiring to hear him. Frequently, those who are nearest to the means of knowledge and grace are most negligent. We are apt to neglect that which we think we may have any day, forgetting that to-morrow is not ours.”
In consulting with my mentor at the time about this subject, she led me to a particular concept that was like a message directly from heaven. It was written by theologian and author Mary Baker Eddy and can be found in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:
“Human affection is not poured forth vainly, even though it meet no return. Love enriches the nature, enlarging, purifying, and elevating it. The wintry blasts of earth may uproot the flowers of affection, and scatter them to the winds; but this severance of fleshly ties serves to unite thought more closely to God, for Love supports the struggling heart until it ceases to sigh over the world and begins to unfold its wings for heaven.”
I was so moved by this passage that it changed my entire belief system on how love is supposed to look, even though it meet no return. Love still looks like love. Not one thing changes about love. It is still kind, it is still benevolent, and it remains forever merciful. It never becomes unloving. But this concept is not an easy one to uphold. It requires a discipline of selflessness, which is not always easy.
I love to love, and I certainly love to be loved, but now I get it. Love is not always going to be returned the way you’d like just because you have shared it, and even if it does, there is no guarantee it will last a lifetime.
There are still times when I long to hear a thoughtful message from those I have loved but have since left my experience; times that I hope to receive a message of why they really left or even just an update as to how they are doing. But even if I never do, I must remain satisfied and without regret for loving them in the first place.
I trust that if I continue to be filled with the love that Love is, one day it will no longer matter if anyone else shares love with me, because the true fulfillment of Love leaves no room for loneliness.
I love you!
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