My Facebook profile says that I have 353 friends. My LinkedIn profile claims 614 connections. I think we all know the number of true friends among those is barely double digits. I am thankful for many great relationships with colleagues past and present, with so many people from my years growing up in Winchester, Kentucky that I’m still in contact with, and with those other friends from churches and elsewhere gained along the way that are truly special people in my life.
There is a difference between being an acquaintance and being a friend. With acquaintances, you may go long periods of time without contact and be just fine with that. In fact, cold as it sounds, you can take or leave most acquaintances. You’re cordial when together and perhaps enjoy the company, but they really aren’t an ongoing part of your life, so if circumstances change and you never meet or cross paths again, it doesn’t really matter.
Friends, of course, are different. You think about friends and anticipate the next time you’ll be together. Friends build on histories together and have key events that get remembered, shared repeatedly, and woven into the fabric of their combined life story. Friends enjoy being together whether there is a lot of talk and chatter or whether there is mostly quiet. With friends, a good time isn’t defined by what happens as much as it is by who is present. Friends expect you to be yourself even with your oddities and shortcomings. Friends forgive you; they don’t hold grudges. Friends come to your aid of their own accord when you’re down or down on your luck. They give without any expectation of return. They comfort you, challenge you, defend you, encourage you. Friends make you laugh at life and at yourself. The thought of a good friend brings a smile to your face.
I count myself fortunate to have friends that go back to high school days. I may not see them in person very often, but Facebook has been an avenue of keeping those relationships alive. I’m thankful for friends I’ve had since college – relationships formed in that critical period of life that have withstood the test of time. I’m thankful for dear friends I’ve gained through churches where I’ve served on the ministerial staff or been a member. I’m thankful for the added bonus of some work relationships turning into friendships that outlive working together at a company. I’m thankful for those special, closest friends where conversations just seem to pick up wherever we left off regardless of how much time has separated our being together.
We don’t need a lot of friends in our lives, but we do need some. I am thankful for all the special people in my life that I call friend.
Thank you, God, for my friends.