One book I read recently talks about the importance of having a friend. All humans need friend, the writer say. We all need someone with whom we can share our deep thoughts and even expose our own weaknesses. This friend is someone whom we can lean on in times of trouble. As I read the book, I asked myself whether I have such a friend. Regretfully, I did not.
I met my wife when I was a freshman in college. I was very close to my wife so she was such a friend to me and I did not have any other such friend except her. While I was living in Korea, I had several very close friends. Since I left Korea, however, all I do is to exchange email once in a while with them and I could not maintain such close friendship with them.
As I ponder on the reasons for this, it dawned on me that cultivating friendship is not as easy as it is generally perceived. It is rather easy to have a good relationship with a superior or subordinates. It can be achieved by being kind and considerate in some degree. As for the subordinates, a little kindness can touch them easily. As for a superior, it may take little more effort but it is still easier than with peers.
To build a friendship, it takes lots of time of being together. In addition, there are more issues when the relationship is equal. It is a delicate balance of support, concession and understanding. Only when all the stumbling blocks were overcome, then and only then, a friendship can be forged. In other words, to make friends, it takes heavy investment along with sacrifice. We think we can make friends if we are like minded and try to make friends easily, but it does not work that way.
This fact explains why we do not have true friendship in this generation. People of these days are too busy to make living. Various hobby activities, fancy drama, internet and SNS are all good reasons to deprive us of our time. More than anything, however, the critical reason is that we are selfish and do not want to make sacrifices. That is the true cause of hindrance in making friends.
When I looked back at my life, I see the overwhelming busyness in it. As soon as I moved to the US, I was busy with my career and ministry work which I took in right after the move. Soon I had to attend seminary while working. On top of that, I carried the burden of being a successor of Pastor Chai, which could have been a good reason to prevent me from making friends. I think that I need to spend more time and energy to make friends. I urge you to do the same. It is a worthy cause to make sacrifices. It is often true that the people who complain of their loneliness are the selfish ones who would not make such investments.
From that point of view, the one who made the biggest sacrifice to make friends is Jesus. He waited outside of my frozen heart for a long time knocking. He also made incredible sacrifices for us. Once we open our hearts, we can be so close to him with surprising ease. That is because he made such a huge sacrifice for us.
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