So. There’s some sort of political stuff going on right? My guess is, if you haven’t been sequestered or living under the proverbial rock (where are these rocks people live under anyway…) then you have heard plenty about politics. There are inflammatory statements being made over every media outlet social and otherwise, on both sides, and people are getting really upset about it.
I don’t want to write about politics, which may seem strange from the title of this article, I want to talk about the changing nature of friendships. I currently have 517 friends on Facebook, (my husband has 2,606 as he is quite the social butterfly). While scrolling through my list I smile at the names that spark childhood memories of skipping rocks, grass-stained knees, and singing into hairbrushes. I see high school classmates who, for a time, were woven into the fabric of my life in such a way that to tear us apart would have been unthinkable. I see former church members who rocked my babies, and whose babies I rocked. I love seeing those same babies win state championships, sing solos, and make their parents proud.
However not all of these people are what people may consider real friends beyond Facebook, nor am I a friend to them outside of cyberspace. Time and distance have created their inevitable rift and we grew in different directions, as happens when time and distance combine. But much of this speaks to our actual understanding of what a friend actually is.
2a : one that is not hostile b :one that is of the same nation, party, or group
3: one that favors or promotes something (as a charity)
4: a favored companion
So maybe we aren’t as far away from friends as I originally thought. I am attached to most of those 517 people by affection or esteem. So far most are not hostile to me, and many of us favor or promote the same things. And many are favored companions, despite distance or time. Unfortunately though, politics is one of those forces that can cause us to be unattractive, hostile, on opposite sides, and unfavorable.
One of the joys to be treasured of true friendship is loving someone whose beliefs differ from your own. My best friend, my son’s godmother, and I disagree on quite a few issues, some that cause huge arguments on places like Facebook. I love her with a ferocity that is indescribable, and we chose long before the appearance of social media that we would respect each other’s opinions, and we could discuss those opinions, but we wouldn’t get angry about them. She is not a carbon copy of me, nor should she be, she is her own unique creation of an awesome Creator. If I extend that courtesy to my best friend, shouldn’t I also extend it to those I totally disagree with, on possibly every issue? I feel like I’ve heard this somewhere…
46 “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” -Matthew 5:46-48
Let your friends rant on social media about politics, and love them anyway. Scroll by the articles that make you want to go on your own rant, and remember the skipped rocks, high school friends, rocking babies, and smile instead of scream. Remember that politics don’t come help you start your car when you are stranded, but friends do. Politicians probably won’t pray for you when your parent passes away, but friends will. The media doesn’t care that you are having a bad day at work, but a friend sees the frustrated Facebook post, and makes you smile with a perfectly timed gif or emoji.
Be a friend. Be someone who people want to have affection for, who they want to support causes with, and who is a favored companion, and remember to love your friends along the way, even when they aren’t.