Twenty years ago, a television show called FRIENDS debuted. The series ran for ten seasons and chronicled the lives of six characters (3 guys, 3 girls), twenty-somethings living in New York City. Billed as a romantic-comedy series, the show aired to generally mixed reviews but quickly built an audience. In many respects, it was SEINFELD for younger adults. (Seinfeld’s primary characters also lived in NYC and were thirty-somethings.)Though I’ve occasionally caught a clip or two from Friends as I flip through channels, I’ve never actually watched an entire episode. During its initial run, I didn’t exactly fit the age demographic. Now that it’s in syndication, it’s even less appealing to me. But friendship … now that’s something I can get jazzed about!
While I don’t have any statistical data to support my belief, I think real, true friendship is rare. Before I explain, consider a few commentaries on friendship. HuffPost offers The 25 Stages of Best Female Friendships. This tongue-in-cheek “celebration” depicts friendship from age 3 to 30. It’s mildly amusing, but evolves quickly into tedium, equating friendship with what is more accurately a mutual-admiration-society.
A similar approach comes from Cosmopolitan, offering Stages of Best Friendship By Age. This time, the age categories go from 6 to 30. [It appears these publications are oblivious to relationships beyond the Golden Age of 30!] The one thing this Cosmo piece has going for it is it’s mercifully short. Other than that, all that’s necessary is the comment of one reader: “Another trashy opinion from a trashy lady. Haven’t seen that before.”
When we’re children, there’s a drive to discover a best friend, that unique soul-mate who shares our every secret. Keeping a best friend can be problematic though and can be a source for heartache … especially if one’s bestie finds someone else with whom he or she has a greater sense of kinship. I’ve been there. No doubt, so have you … not to mention so have our offspring, as we’ve stood by watching, grieving silently.
I say again, Real, true friendships are rare. As we go through life, most of us establish many acquaintances – people we know from school, work and play, people we meet at the gym, the park and in church. We may even know some of them quite well. (You get along great, your families are compatible and social gatherings are immensely pleasurable.)
For me, my very closest friends in all the world are my mom and my two daughters. (A step back from them are my sister and sister-in-law and daughter-in-law … do you see the pattern emerging?) I have known no other woman as long as I’ve known my mom. She has been my lifelong mentor and friend. She has loved me unconditionally … even at my most unlovely moments.
My two daughters – I’ve posted about them before – are unique women, not my yin and yang by any means, but somehow with their differences they represent the better sides of me! They are exceptionally creative, tender-hearted and loving, and as sharply witted as I would wish to be!
ASIDE: Here’s an interesting thing though. My mom and my daughters (yes, me too) are very much alike, free spirits, all of us fiercely independent and opinionated. Consequently, we’re often perceived as unfriendly and misanthropic! Maybe we should blame it on our genes?
There are things about friendship apparent to me that are lost on HuffPo and Cosmo … and characters on the Friends sit-com. First, the best friendships are the ones you’ve had the longest but have forgotten to appreciate – members of your own family. These are the people who really know you, warts and all, and still love you!
Secondly, as one ages friends become ever more precious … in other words, friendship past age 30 is not only possible but eminently more beautiful and real! There’s a Proverb that says: “Forgive someone, and you will strengthen your friendship. Keep reminding them, and you will destroy it.” Having to forgive your friend means you’ve experienced a falling-out. In some relationships, it’s easier to move on after hurt, but a valued friendship is strengthened through forgiveness.
The theme song from Friends is I’ll Be There For You. It’s a worthy sentiment, I’ll be there for you. It’s what friends are all about, right? Beyond the title, the lyrics of the song are energetic but inane … no doubt what a show theme should be.
But a true friend, a deeply loving and caring friend is the one who will be there for you. As one of my daughters put it, a true friend is the first one you call when (1) your loved one dies, (2) you’re diagnosed with fill in the blank, (3) any other crisis comes your way.
That’s why true friendship is so rare. A true friend will be there for you, no matter what. And, as Proverbs 18:24 reminds us: “… there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.“