October 27, 2017

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

God is our best friend, and he can help us in other relationships

Cynthia DewesFriends are so important to us. There’s a TV show by that name and many others on that theme. Friends come in all shapes and sizes and ages, abilities and faults, and we’re lucky to have them.

Even dedicated introverts usually have one or two buddies with whom they can share opinions or a good laugh. They may not seek them out as extroverts do, but they can enjoy the quality if not the quantity of their pals. Often their relationship began in childhood or in a school situation. And often they have achieved romance and marriage without the usual numbers of dates or planned encounters.

The thing is, we seem to create friendships if we’re open to accepting the differences which exist among people. Thus, Catholics may have best friends who are Jewish or Methodist or agnostic. They can share rapport with people of other races, or spend quality time with someone from a much different age group. They may see them every day or once a year or only talk over the phone, but their connection is constant.

Recently, we attended the funeral of a longtime friend and neighbor. At this age, you might expect a modest group of mourners, but our friend’s funeral was huge. The church was packed and a crowd accompanied the body to the funeral chapel before returning to a literal feast back at the church. The whole thing was a celebration of life.

That’s as it should be when we leave this world for the next. The funeral celebrants and family members gave upbeat, amusing tales about our friend. His kindness, loyalty, faith and sense of humor were documented, and everyone left feeling the better for having had our friend in their lives. One reason he was so popular was that he was always an affirming person to all of us. He was joyous, and he made us feel the same way. Nobody’s perfect, but he sure kept trying.

One quality of friendship is the acceptance of another person without judgment. If we happen to come on someone who annoys us or seems to have opposite ideas from ours, friendship requires patience and tolerance. We remember that others don’t need to agree with us in order to be worthy people with legitimate opinions. And if we can’t resolve the relationship without being mean or backing away from what we believe, then we must have the courage to end it quietly.

We know that God is our friend. God loves us just as we are, forgives us for whatever, and gives us the graces we need to live fully and joyfully. So, God’s friendship is the model for our earthly friendships. We must be open to God’s friendship, and so we must be open to earthly friendships which also exhibit acceptance, forgiveness and enrichment.

One thing I believe is that to have a friend, we must be a friend. To me, that means contacting them just to say “hi” or to offer support when they need it. It means offering a lift somewhere or dropping off a meal or inviting them to accompany you to an event. It’s just being aware of others at all times.

If we need help or inspiration to be good friends, we can always call on God to help us. He’s our best friend, after all.

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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