“Foolish people like to test the bonds of their friendships, pulling upon them to see how much strain they will stand. When they snap, it is as if friendship itself had been proved unworthy. But the truth is that good friendships are fragile things and require as much care in handling as any other fragile and precious…” ~ Randolph Silliman Bourne, The Radical Will …
When I think of fragile, I generally tend to picture inanimate objects, such as glass and fine china. However, so much of life is fragile. Our human bodies are fragile–I have personally experienced a number of broken bones and injuries throughout my life. Plants and animals are fragile–if we over hunt them or destroy their ecosystem we can endanger the species. Even the spiritual, emotional, and cognitive aspects of our humanity are fragile. It is therefore understandable that all aspects of our human interactions are fragile as well, including our friendships, and we must treat them as we do our glass and fine china–as precious and fragile things that must be handled with great care. At times, it can be easy for us to take them for granted. Take, for instance, our relationships with our siblings. We can come to treat our friends as if they are always going to be there for us and with us no matter what, and yet somehow forget that the connections we have with our siblings are forever and might require effort and work to maintain and help to grow and flourish.
So what effort and work can I do for my friendships? Well, I can be there for my friends when they need me and ask me for help. I can listen to them and their concerns when they need to be heard. I can spend time with them and learn about them–their hopes and dreams, likes and dislikes, fears and desires. I can provide guidance and support when they are lost. I can encourage them to reach, to develop, and to grow to their full potential. Friendship is about giving and receiving; it is about mutual respect and concern. If I can make the extra effort for them, they will show gratitude and thanks, and will return my friendship back. Therefore, it is not about what I can get, but what I can give. When I really think about it, friendship truly is a humbling experience.
This is where the fragility comes into play. As friends, there are certain things we should not do. We should not expect things from them, and we should not hold things out on them to get our way. We should not stand them up, assuming they will be okay with it because they are with them. We should not share their secrets with others, and we should not criticize them harshly when we do not agree with them. And while we can give advice, we certainly should not tell our friends what they should do. In addition, we certainly should not expect them to be there for us if we are not willing to be there for them.
Friendships are just like any other relationship in our lives–they take effort to maintain and grow. And when we neglect this aspect of our lives, and do not take the time to consider what we might do to improve our relationships, we miss out on so much in life. Putting more time, effort, and love into our relationships results in much deeper and more satisfying connections that show us that our lives are much fuller and blessed than we often realize.
Take a moment today to reflect upon a neglected friendship of yours and take the opportunity to renew and revitalize it.
Questions to consider:
Why is it often easy to take friends for granted?
What kinds of things could you do today to improve the friendships that you have in your life?
What kinds of things damage friendships? How do those things tend to happen?
For further thought:
“Taking friendships for granted is one of the surest ways of ending them. Unless nourished, they tend to wither and die. Unless we earnestly desire its continuance we should never start a friendship any more than we would a love affair.” ~ Alice Caldwell Hegan Rice, Happiness Road