I am taking a few moments out from creating the sequel to The Compassion Prize, titled The Compassion Gift, to add a post to my blog.
In writing the Compassion series I have been exploring, among other things, the meaning and need for friendship. Luca thinks that he doesn’t need anyone, let alone friends at the very beginning of the series. Friendship is a waste of time, considering the little time you have when you live on the heaps of Outside. He sees the vulnerability, in having friends, as a weakness, especially when you are trying to survive in world where no one cares.
He soon finds friendship and he discovers it is what he needs the most. Mercy and Eban are able to encourage and protect him. They bring out his best.
I have a group of friends like this. If someone had planned for friendship, I’m not certain that they would have put us together. We are very different. On the surface we are different ages, styles and characters. Some of us like to be with people while others prefer to hide away a little. Some are bold and speak up, while others need encouragement to find their voice. Some are excellent with articulating what needs to be said while others struggle to find the words. I love these friends.
It is what makes us different that causes us to grow. We each bring something, that is unique to us, to the group. We feel safe to share where we are really at in life, knowing that instead of masses of advice, we have a gentle and listening heart offered to us. We know that we will be provoked to make the right choice and not necessarily the one that seems good. Sometimes it feels like you are being encouraged with a spear behind you to keep moving, but that spear has your back when the battle starts. These friends are an incredible support network and and a save haven.
Friendship like this can’t happen by accident; it has to be intentional. We have had to press through rubbish in order to have what we have today (and I expect we will continue to do so). Friendships can be ruined by comparison, competition and misunderstanding. Relationships will not grow unless you make yourself vulnerable.
There are of course friends that are so like you, you are what Anne Shirley would say, are kindred spirits.
Recently, whilst waiting for a school event to finish, I had a kindred spirit moment with a friend of mine. We were both in our cars and could not sit together, but we began a text conversation that revealed just how similar we were. Friendships like this are incredibly valuable.
There are, however, dangers in friendships like these. Just because you think like them on many things, does not mean that you know how they feel. I have appreciated the loving way that friends like these listen without judging, say the right thing at the right time and have had the maturity and kindness to assume that I am not them. I have learnt and am learning so much from them even now.
Then there are the unexpected friendships; the ones where you are thrown together and it just works. One of these friends lives very close to me. She and I would never have been friends if it had not been for a course that we were both on. Even if we were to live miles apart, I think that we would still feel like we were neighbours.
Luca had guarded himself so strongly against friendship with anyone. Perhaps he had an element of wisdom. There are some people out there who would not know how to take care of you, but that does not encompass everyone. Friendship is so valuable. Luca didn’t know what he had been missing until he had the incredible blessing of friendship.
I have a challenge for you … I wonder if you can identify any friendships that you could invest a little more of yourself into. Could you be the friend someone else needs today?