Friendship.  Over the course of our lives, we cultivate numerous friendships.  Some last only through childhood.  Some for a moment in time.  Others, you gain in adulthood; they're either lasting or not, as are most things.  All friendships teach us something; about ourselves, about each other, about the world around us.  They take the proverbial artistry pencils and start to add color and texture to our lives.  Sometimes it's within the lines. Sometimes it's not.  Point is, our friendships  change us.

If you've read anything I've posted recently, you'll see a common theme.  Discipleship, Christianity, and being all-in with our faiths.  If you're following my Wordpress account, you'll see a ministry that my best friend, Emmanuel, and I have started.  This article isn't about my faith per se; I am a savage follower of Jesus Christ who believes in showing compassion and understanding to my fellow humans.  If you want to discuss faith, please, don't hesitate to message me.  We won't agree on everything, but I guarantee respect and courtesy.  Also, no hatemongering.  I don't believe in bashing our LGBT communities and I am absolutely against Trump's "Make America Great Again" hatefulness.  But I digress, while these are important and my faith plays a part in who I am, I want to talk about true friendship.

While my wife is the person I wake up next to each day, talk to about pretty much everything, and count on more than anyone else, I believe people must cultivate friendships outside their marriage.  We are social creatures.  If we are people of faith, doubly so, because most religions dictate we engage with everyone to bring followers to the cause.  So, beyond my marriage, my best friend, Emmanuel, represents an important part in my life.  He is the friend who speaks truth regardless of whether I want to hear it or not. 

See, for the longest time, I've battled with an internal anger and darkness.  I wanted the world to leave me alone.  I needed people to just mind their business and butt out.  Each day, as I drew breath, I felt antagonistic towards almost everyone.  This wasn't always the case, but you know how life is.  Sometimes it just kicks you where it hurts and when you fall down, it keeps on kicking.  There have been times when Emmanuel offered counsel, times when he offered silence.  And, there were times when the paths in our life forced us away from friendship.  Emmanuel is my brother. We talk about our faith and the ministry God has laid before us.  We talk about the stories and art in our heads and heart.  He gives me advice when I'm being rather unpleasant. 

The bottom line is this.  Cherish your friends.  It's easy to fall away, to internalize your life when they're not around as much.  I know how easy it is.  Been there.  Still go through that valley many times in my life.  But, the people we invite into our lives are there for a reason.  Sometimes they're around to push you towards greatness.  Sometimes they're part of it to show you a better way.  Sadly, some friendships are there to poison you and drag you through the mud.  Be careful about those.  Don't permit those kinds of friendships to endure and don't be that kind of friend. 

Don't expect them to always be perfect.  We're not capable of perfection and, because of this, far too often we screw up.  Forgiveness is crucial, but it's not just forgiving others, but forgiving ourselves.  Too often, we can't let go of the past, causing our relationships with people to crumble and fall away.  When it's too easy to play the blame game and give up, we must understand our friendships involve people.  There are things we shouldn't accept, but overall, we all need to adopt more life and let live and a less pointing fingers. 

So with the year halfway over, here's to the friendships we've made and the ones yet to come. 

Published by Stephen Smith