Right now I can break my life into two halves. One half being a youth, and one half being an adult. A few of the experiences that I have had lately have caused me to think about friendship, and how my ideas about friendship have changed in my life.
When I was young, friendship usually meant fun. My friends were the people that I had fun with. The people I played ball with (any ball), the people I would watch movies with, the people I would have over to play Risk and order pizza with, these were my friends. They were also people that had an unconditional acceptance of me. Even if I did or said something dumb or embarrassing, they would stand by me. If they laughed you could tell it was the 'laugh with' kind. There were also times, in awkward social situations (which for me is pretty much any social situation) my friends were people that I could stand by. It is amazing how having somebody to stand by makes such a difference.
There was an intensity to these friendships of my youth. And even though I don't keep touch with many of them as well as I should, I will always think of them with much fondness. I had quite a group of very good friends.
'When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. ' (1 Cor. 13:11)As an adult life gets pretty busy. Most of every day is filled with responsibilities of some kind. Not much time for fun. I have my wife and my children, and there is a level of friendship in these relationships. But those relationships are of a different sort of which I am speaking, aren't they? Certainly one should be a friend with one's spouse. But is it not healthy to have friendships in addition to this relationship?
It seems the older I get the less friendships I have. And in comparison to the friendships of my youth, the bar has been significantly lowered. Not that the quality of the people are lower, but the quality of the friendship seems lower. Not the intensity of youth. Not the fun. I have co-workers now. Ward members. Neighbors. Sure we are friendly, but are we friends? Really friends? I find myself wanting to protect the word friend. I don't really give it freely. I have been spoiled with high expectations from my youth.
I love to golf. Most of the time I golf alone. I'm busy, everyone is. I'm a little old for 'can Joe come out and play'? I watch sports, often on TV. Usually alone. I'm not shedding tears - I'm not that emotional. It's just the way it is. It's more practical.
That brings me to the bloggernacle. Are we friends? Are we having fun together, doing something we enjoy. Do we stand by each other? Do we laugh 'with'. Are there people I can stand by when I feel awkward? Sometimes I think the 'friendships' I have here are about as real - maybe more - than the friendships I currently have in real life. Sometimes I think these 'friendships' are just one step away from having imaginary friends like a small child might have.
This is not a 'HELP!' This is a 'what do ya think?'