THE ADVANTAGE OF THE FRIEND RELATIONSHIP
by Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 2 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Blue Denim and Lace)
Life is a series of human relationships. It is very important that we develop each to its fullest. No one need magnify the importance of the parent-child relationship, the husband- wife relationship, the brother-sister relationship, etc. There is, however, a need to magnify the importance of the friend relationship. Many would never class it in importance with the aforementioned. I think that it should be. Let us observe some advantages in the friend relationship.
1. It is one of the few relationships that we choose. We do not choose our mother, our father, our brother, our sister, our son, our daughter. God chooses them for us. Because He does, they are sacred relationships. There are a few relationships, however, that should be akin to those mentioned above. These are made sacred because they are chosen by us. One such relation is that of a friend. If I am your friend, I chose to be your friend. If you are my friend, you chose to be my friend. What an honor we have given to each other. Of all the people in the world we have given our friendship one to the other. How sacred such a relationship!
2. It can be a completely unselfish relationship. The child needs the parent. In usual cases, in later years the parent needs the child. The husband needs the wife, and the wife needs the husband. In each of these relationships there is, however holy, a righteous selfishness involved. When I chose to be your friend, however, I chose to give and not to receive .. I chose to help and not to be helped. I chose to love and not to be loved. I chose to care for you and not to be cared for by you. In being your friend I ask nothing. I am willing to give everything, which means that the object of such friendship may rest comfortably in an unselfish relationship.
3. Friendship is one of the few relationships that never changes. The child grows up and leaves home. The parent grows old and passes away. Brothers and sisters move away from home. At first the child needs the parent; later the parent needs the child. Even in marriage the needs change with the passing of the years. In friendship it need not be so. Many parents will admit that about the time they learn how to be parents, the children are grown. The same is true with many relationships in life, but the friend relationship is one of the few, if not the only one, where one can spend years becoming an expert and still have time to use what he has learned, for the relationship may remain the same.
4. The friend relationship is one that needs not the acceptance of another. To become a husband means that another must accept the proposal. To become a wife means that there must be a proposal by another. True friendship is not, however, based upon this. I can be your friend, even if you are not my friend. In other words, friendship need not be reciprocated. This means if I am your friend, I have chosen you from a wide field of possibilities. I did not choose you because you accepted, for I became your friend before you accepted. In some cases, I am your friend even if you never accept, but what an honor it is to have a friend!
6. One need never give up one friend for another. In some relationships of life there can be only one. In the friendship relationship the one relationship need not be traded if another is acquired. This relationship is never lost to another. You may be my friend and someone else's friend. When I become a friend to another, I may still be your friend.
7. The friend relationship is one that can be completely spiritual. Most of life's relationships are based upon physical needs. To be sure, there are spiritual needs also. In any relationship of life the spiritual should be uppermost. I can become your friend, however, without there being one physical need for you to supply. Our souls may be knit together, and our relationship need not be based upon the satisfying of physical appetites.
8. A friend may be chosen at any time of life. Parents come at birth; children come to us in young adulthood; brothers and sisters come to us during childhood. People at a certain age are unable to have children, but a friend may be chosen at eight or eighty, nine or ninety, ten or one hundred, sixteen or sixty.
Friendship is a high and lofty relationship. Few ever know its depth. Most never know a friend, and certainly, most never are a friend.
Hence, the great relationships of life are husband-wife, mother-daughter, father-son, brother-sister, and . . . friend. Happy is the man who has a friend. Happier is the man who is a friend. Happiest is the man who has a friend and is a friend. Oh how happy I am!
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