In the Bible, a proverb counsels, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly.” (Proverbs 18:24) This I love to do. I love all my friends. I love to support, care, and show them they are special to me. I have always had good friends – not just friends, but best friends - those who don’t cling; who are secure in the knowledge that they are loved even if long periods of time pass between contact; those who live their lives and let me live mine; those who come and go over the years, leaving a sweet trail of encouragement, support and kindness in their wake.
With all this rich friendship in my life, I hadn’t given much thought to what it would be like to be friendless. But when a close friend “broke up” with me, I felt isolated and alone. It wasn’t that I didn’t have other friends. I was simply confused as to why I couldn’t have that one in my life.
I had had breakups before, but none that rocked me like this one. For several months after, I avoided even thinking about my friend, not wanting to hear in my mind those stomach-socking words, “I don’t want to have any more contact with you.” Although her reasons made no sense to me, I respected her directness. I had to let her go. And I learned a few lessons about friendship along the way.
Mary Baker Eddy asked in her textbook on Christian Science, “Would existence without personal friends be to you a blank? Then the time will come when you will be solitary, left without sympathy; but this seeming vacuum is already filled with divine Love. When this hour of development comes, even if you cling to a sense of personal joys, spiritual Love will force you to accept what best promotes your growth.” Further on, she wrote, “Universal Love is the divine way in Christian Science.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p.266)
My lessons on friendship came from prayer about Love, from prayer centered on getting to know the universal Love that is God as my best and ever Friend. The first chapter of Science and Health, titled Prayer, emphasizes God’s nature as Love – not simply as having a loving aspect, but as Love, divine Love itself – the impartial, always available Love that never puts conditions on His expression of love - “I’ll love you this much if…” Or, “I’ll be your Friend when…” Love loves like the sun shines. No one is left out of the Love-light. Divine Love is not conditional or arbitrary. It is universal, unlimited and freely given.
Love can do nothing but express love to everyone, everywhere. Love is all, and we all live in God’s love. Divine Love never quits, never changes, never stops. God is the everpresent Friend that never abandons His creation. As I got to know God as my Friend, I saw that I could trust this Friend to never drop me. In this enormous sense of Love’s friendship, I saw God as my constant Companion and my most faithful Friend.
Love loves. Love’s friendship blesses in all circumstances no matter what. No one is left out. Nothing is left behind. Our divine Friend is always present no matter where we may find ourselves. Our connection to this Friend, our security in the divine friendship, is not dependent on another person.
Knowing God to be Friend helped me lift up my expectations in my human friendships to look for, in myself and in those around me, the permanence, fidelity and other spiritual qualities inherent in God’s creation as His image and likeness.
In her autobiography, Mary Baker Eddy once wrote, “There are no greater miracles known to earth than perfection and an unbroken friendship. We love our friends, but ofttimes we lose them in proportion to our affection.“ (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 80) Jesus called Judas “friend” even after knowing that he betrayed him. Jesus knew his true and perfect Friend to be God, and could only see God’s likeness in those he loved. Jesus always loved Judas. While Judas' behavior may have separated him from Jesus, it was a onesided break-up. Even betrayal couldn’t separate Jesus from his friend.
In the case of my friend, I had gone quiet for a period before the break up, slipping away during a tumultuous period of my life. My intention was to protect her from worrying about me, but it was misunderstood and seen as neglect. I am deeply sorry about that misunderstanding, but I would not have handled it differently. I did what I did out of love for my friend, to the best of my understanding at that time. And I cherish the lessons I have since learned about friendship. I now know that it can only be broken if I allow it to be. And I don’t. I will always love her as my friend.
No child of God can truly unfriend another. Friendship is an expression of Life as much as an expression of Love. It is not optional. If it should occur that we disconnect and go our separate ways, we are all still linked eternally in life and love by divine Love. And only in love. Not in pain, dishonesty, hate, sadness or fear.
I think a line from Shakespeare’s Sonnet No. 30 sums up perfectly what a spiritual perspective can bring to our friendships: “But if the while I think on thee, dear friend, All losses are restored, and sorrows end.” My anguish over that relationship stopped as I realized that nothing has the power to deprive me of true friendship, a divine attribute that God expresses constantly in my life. Since no one can be Godless, no one can be friendless. Now when I think of that friend, instead of pain and loss, I feel love. And loved. We are both loved, moving forward and progressing in Love. No one is left out or put out of Love's circle of friends. No one.
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That is what I said to a friend. I had called to ask her to pray with me. No sooner did I start to speak than the tears started welling up. She was so compassionate. And I was so annoyed with myself. Emotionalism has never been my thing.
As she was speaking words of comfort to me, I realized something. I said, "Don't worry. These tears don't mean I am sad. They are just sweat - mental sweat. I am working really hard at the moment, making an effort to grow spiritually." That helped us move through and past the tears to the subject at hand - a deeper exploration of God's love and present power.
I have practiced Christian Science professionally in
some form since 1979.
But my journey with
Christian Science started
in a Sunday school
where as a young child
I was taught the Scriptures and some simple basics
of Jesus' method of
scientific Christian healing.
A significant experience
at the age of twelve
opened my eyes to
the great potential
of this practice.
After impaling my foot
on a nail,
I prayed the way I had learned
in Sunday school.
the pain stopped
and healing began.
By the next morning the wound had disappeared completely.
the great potential
of Christian Science,
there would be no