At the suggestion of a friend, I recently Friendship That Run Deep by Keith R. Anderson. (For the record, this book was published about 14 years ago.) There are several things found in the book which I felt worth sharing.
The first is, in searching for a definition of friendship, Anderson settles on the concept of hospitality. Friendship is “creating a free and open space in which people can meet without fear or hostility.” (pp. 18-19) I do not recall attempting to define friendship myself, however I like this definition. My closest and most appreciated friendships have been the ones in which I knew I could be honest and open, and knew my friend wouldn’t look down on me or be afraid, etc. I other words, I knew I was accepted. This doesn’t mean friends don’t challenge us or call us out on things. In fact, it is precisely because of the friendship that they are able to do these things. Friendship provides the context for challenge and when necessary, confrontation. Additionally, without taking time to develop the idea here, I think hospitality is a wonderful picture of what church should be like.
Beyond this, Anderson has seven points which he highlights, one in each of the remaining seven chapters. These are:
- Friendship requires the choice of unmasking. – By this Anderson means opening up and sharing what we actually think and feel. It’s a risk. Someone has to make the first move. Practice good listening and asking good questions.
- Friendships grow through intentional choices for loyalty. – “It is when the going gets tough that friendships can grow the most.” (p. 50)
- A friend learns how to listen. – “The only door I know that opens into the heart of loneliness is the door of a listening ear.” (p. 57) “A listening ear is one of the greatest powers that exists in the universe. When I listen I honor you. When I listen I accept you as you are. When I listen I validate both your words and your thoughts. A listening friendship creates a hospitable place for another person.” (p. 58) “Empathic listening means that I attempt to listen so well that I get inside your mind and see what you see.” (p. 60)
- There are seasons to friendships.
- Mutual encouragement is the glue for healthy relationships. – “There is power in encouragement unlike anything else. It literally transforms us from weakness into strength, from fear into faith, from defeat into victory.” (p. 92)
- Forgiveness is the indispensable skill for any healthy relationship.
- Friendships which last go deep.