Have you ever stopped to ask yourself how many TRUE friends you have?
Before you answer, first eliminate from your list people that are really more like acquaintances and not actual friends. Next, eliminate family members, since your relationship with them is not based primarily on friendship. Then, eliminate anyone who would be considered a friend by you but does not reciprocate the definition (or vice-versa—thinks of you as a friend but you do not reciprocate). Now, eliminate folks who do not meet the description of a true friend that Jesus gave when he said, “A friend is someone who would give up their life for you.” Of course this need not be translated that we should literally die for a friend but rather be seen as a metaphor that says a true friend is committed to setting aside their ego-based ways of relating in exchange for healthy ways of relating in a friendship with you.
Reasons We May Lack True Friends
Once you take your original prospects through these few stages of testing, you probably have a much shorter list, and it’s possible that those who remain are true friends. These true friends deserve to know they are such and should be shown as much love and appreciation as possible. If your list, however, lacks an abundance of true friends, here are some of the most common reasons:
- You have too many unhealed wounds and therefore are possibly too selective or have distanced yourself from those who might have been friends.
- You are not yet spiritually or psychologically healthy enough for others to feel a safe, close bond with you.
- You, yourself, have failed to be a true friend or failed to demonstrate the characteristics of a true, healthy friend.
- You are too busy with work, family, or other distractions to have close, true friends (which is possibly an excuse that conceals other issues).
- You have lots of people around you that you think are friends who allow you to remain in denial of your unhealed wounds. These people do not meet the definition of a true friend and therefore shed light on something for you to look at.
Most people have heard the saying, “Choose your friends wisely.” Some people translate this to mean, “Choose your friends cautiously.” This implies the need to be cautious about whom you “let in” as friends, which can be good advice but is likely a rigid way of living. Instead, let’s consider it to mean, “Wisely choose friends” (i.e. friends that are healthy and mature). In this context, the word “healthy” means that our friends need to be emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually healthy. This criterion not only applies to others who want to be our friends but also applies to us and our need to be a good friend to others.
Spiritual Friendships Mirror Heaven on Earth
Spiritual friendships, like all other areas of our lives, should always be growing and evolving to reflect greater quantities of unconditional love and acceptance. This is how they evolve from being ordinary, unhealthy, co-dependent relationships (mirroring hell on earth) into extraordinary, healthy, interdependent relationships (mirroring Heaven on Earth). So, wisely choose your friends.
Whether you like a person or not and whether you are close or merely acquaintances, technically anyone you interact with is defined as some form of “relationship.” The term “friendship” however, is used accurately only for those of your many and diverse relationships who you select to share a unique closeness. To an average human being, friends are usually those who “like” you and are willing to stroke your ego and do things the way you like them. True friends, however, are those who are willing to be real, honest, and loving towards you and are willing to honor your needs and boundaries. True friends often see the worst side of you and are willing to not take it personally.
Instead, they are capable of being healthy and strong enough to call you to be responsible for your “stuff” and to encourage you to do your work to heal. True friends are committed to having open, honest, and thorough communication. They can usually tell each other their darkest secrets and greatest dreams without much of a chance of the shared information being turned into gossip or used against each other. Being an “honest” friend is not defined as someone who is willing to openly dump their opinion on you. From a spiritual perspective, when a true friend feels compelled to share their opinions with you, they do so lovingly and tactfully. A true friend is a spiritual friend and a spiritual friend is respectful, responsible, and authentic.
True Friendships are Holy Relationships
A Course in Miracles refers to healthy relationships as “Holy Relationships” and implies that until a relationship is spiritualized or made “Holy” (surrendered to God to become a sacred and respectful expression of unconditional love), all forms of relationship are probably serving the ego (our fears and needs). True friendship cannot exist if they do not fit the definition of a Holy relationship. This is not to say that true friendships or any other form of healthy relationship don’t have moments when the ego rears its head. But when a person chooses to commit to a sincere life of spirituality, it means they are setting the intention to experience more God and more love in all areas of their life (especially in relationships). Therefore, although one’s fears and ego behaviors can certainly still leak into the relationship or friendship, if we are truly committed to expressing Spirit in our relations, then we must catch ourselves wearing the mask of the ego and remove it as soon as possible.
A healthy relationship and true friendship should be increasing the quantity and quality of Spirit flowing through it on a day-to-day basis. Conversely, if there is a decrease in the expression of Spirit/Love, it’s a clear sign that the relationship is immature, unhealthy, and not a sacred experience. To experience this latter scenario and not recognize it is usually only possible if you suffer from some form of pride or denial. Nevertheless, if you have the courage to recognize such unhealthy relationships, it is never too late to choose again. Own your part in having created a relationship of fear, neediness, gossip, manipulation, and all other forms of ego expression and then make amends wherever/whenever possible to transform an unhealthy relationship into a relationship that is healthy and sacred.
True friendships aren’t seen as places to overtly or covertly take our issues out on others. Instead, we seek to bring God/Love into the lives of our friends, as well as owning when we fail and then making corrections. Anything less is simply not a healthy relationship nor a true friendship. It’s that simple!
All of our relationships are destined to eventually be healthy and Holy expressions of unconditional love, which means they are vehicles for expressing love and care for others. Until that day arrives, however, if we find our relationships lack signs of healthiness, it certainly helps to have allies (healthy friendships) to make easier our journey towards healing all our relations. Further, the day of having only Holy relationships will not come but through our own responsible efforts to take an honest look at our thoughts, words, and actions, followed by a commitment to choose and create only healthy relationships, which also increases our list of true friends. If some relationships (family, friends, partners, etc…) just can’t seem to make the transition from unhealthy to healthy (and you’ve done everything you can to do your part), then such relationships have to sometimes be cut loose and surrendered to Spirit. If you do so with resentment or hurt, your challenges and lessons are certain to go with you. If you do so with love and responsibility (parting ways with an attitude and expression of unconditional love), then you are doing all that Spirit asks of you.
If you die today, what matters on the other side is not so much how many people you once mistakenly called friends, as much as how many people were true friends. Each person you lifted into a Holy relationship (or you allowed to lift you) will enter the ark of peace and begin the ascension into God’s Consciousness (aka Heaven). Each failure, on the other hand, will be transformed into another opportunity to learn and heal—today, tomorrow, or in another lifetime.