Recently, I was asked what I thought friendship meant. This came after a friend published a note about our friendship.
BFF is a great phrase, my children used it years ago. I’m not sure I understand the exact meaning but I can say there are friends in my life who I could call BFF.
Love God and Neighbor
Loving people as we love God is a good way of explaining friends. We’re to give our heart, mind, soul, and strength to God. When we do the same for our friends, we receive the same blessings as we do from our giving ourselves to God. What do I mean? Let me explain my thoughts about heart, mind, soul, and strength and what it means to give them away.
Heart, Emotion & Feeling
Our hearts are the emotion or feeling center. When I listen and watch people I’d guess most people would say their heart is where their emotion, feelings exist. That is, it is there where they think of happy or sad things. Thrills in a soccer stadium as the striker scores the goal in the final minutes of the game; a great happy emotion or feeling. Or, maybe it’s a sad moment because the loss of a loved one.
We live in a very emotional, feeling world, that is, read the news headlines, watch TV news, follow social media and you will find emotion, feeling because they are attention-grabbing. We live in an emotion-filled world where angry crowds with different opinions yell at each other, their emotion bubbling up from within. But, your emotions, feelings, and heart are not who you are, you aren’t your emotions or feelings.
Mind & Intellect
Our minds are the intellectual center. We live in a world where winning at JEOPARDY is a hallowed skill. We value intellect because we can learn new things, apply new techniques and teach others knowledge. Humans have continually evolved, gotten better because we have and use our intellect. As an Economics trained person, it’s easy to see the financial rewards given to individuals who use their intellect. If you have economic value it may be because of your intellect. Intellect is uniquely a human quality, animals don’t get intellect in the way humans do, pretty cool for us. But, your mind, or as I think of it, your intellect, is not who you are, you aren’t your mind or intellect.
So, what else are you? What’s left? Well, your soul, some might call it spirit or energy, we Catholics call it our soul and we believe our souls live forever into eternity. Your soul is that part of you that you have that conversation with all day. In every moment of the day, while you’re working, or playing, you have a running commentary with yourself. The Church for thousands of years has taught a message about the human soul,
“Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment. . . . For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. . . . His conscience is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths.” Catechism 1776
My definition of the soul could not be better than this one from the Church.
Give to Your Friends
So, what do heart, mind, soul have to do with friendship? The deepest of friendships recognize all three parts of the friend. You give all of your heart, emotion, and feeling toward the other, toward your friend. You give it away freely without reservation. This is true for intellect, you share your intellect with your friend without regard for yourself, this is being a friend to another, you want for them so much that you give them all you have by way of intellect.
Heart and mind can be those conversations you have with your friend where you exchange heavy moments as easily as you do funny or happy moments. Friendship is laughing at our human nature, our flaws, our greatness, our successes, and failures. Life is open to each other, a mutual giving to of each other.
And finally, your soul, you give away your soul to another. That is, you share your journey into eternity together. A good friend is someone who you share all of you; heart, mind, soul, and strength.
In a friendship, we give all we have without regard to our self-interest, we don’t seek to get anything back (this is the strength part). We just give to another and enjoy what they might receive. I have a friend who wrote a note about our friendship. He explains,
“Don is the one. For over 10 years, Don and I have laughed our way closer to Jesus. We could talk about our life and our journey with Christ. Where we turned away from Christ, and how we knew we had to find our way back to His path.”
Dave’s letter to me is an example of why giving ourselves to God and to others is necessary, simple, yet so powerful.
So today, be selfless by giving someone your; heart, mind, soul, and strength.