So tell me, what is the verbal form of “friend” or “friendship”? Kind of strange, no? Why can’t I friend someone. I mean, I can befriend someone, but what do people who are already friends do?
Friendship is about being and doing. The Greeks had the right idea when they switched their concept of φίλια – a sort of passive, spontaneous love that one feels for those he likes, for αγάπε – a more transcendental relationship that is sought after and can even extend to enemies.
You may have guessed it. What we are talking about here with friendship is nothing other than love. When we reflect on how to be a better friend, really all we are asking ourselves is how to love better. The concept of friendship serves to remind us of a very important aspect of love: we love a person, not just a soul. Of course the apostle wants to save souls, but souls don’t just walk around by themselves.
Friendship often brings us to remember the importance of the human part of love. Love loves the person as a whole and that is why external things are also important.
If you’re serious about friendship, you have to be active, on the watch. There are so many opportunities to grow in friendship, to friend someone.
Not long ago I was laying on the beach reading, a pastime I don’t often get to enjoy. A friend of mine came up to me and asked if I wanted to go for a run. Hmmm … run or lay in the sun? The latter was definitely more attractive. So he condescended for me: how about just a walk? I wasn’t to budge. Friendship called … and I still turned a deaf ear.
It wasn’t the end of the world. Just a missed chance to grow in friendship, to be there for someone else, to strengthen the ties that may be vital for him or for me in the future.
Not long after, the same friend sat down to breakfast alone. He got up however shortly after to go get coffee. Seizing the opportunity, I quickly ran into the kitchen and grabbed some pancakes, butter and honey, just the way he eats them. When he came back, his breakfast table looked a little different.
Αγάπε is the word that was incorporated into Christian vocabulary as love, charity. If our friendship doesn’t include “friending” then it’s not the kind of friendship we are looking for. Friendship is proactive and so are those looking to form it.