It was the summer of 1994 when I first made a real effort to understand the meaning of "friend" and "friendship". Until that time I took friendly relationships for granted - at least I think that is how it was with me.
Perhaps I had contemplated the terms and meanings before, but simply not given them "voice". I have, over the years, had many friends. There comes an ebb and a flow as people move around, change and grow, and so on. On Facebook I have many "Friends". Some I know very well from personal contact, others only through technology.
And so it was in the summer 1994 that I gave voice to my understanding and thoughts. To this day I continue to refer to these observations.
Friendship is defined by Webster as 1) the state of being friends 2) attachment between friends 3) friendly feeling or attitude; friendliness.
Friend is defined as 1) a person whom one knows well and is fond of; intimate associate; close acquaintance 2) a person on the same side in a struggle; one who is not an enemy or foe; an ally 3) a supporter or sympathizer 4) something thought of as like a friend in being helpful, reliable, etc.
The word "friend" finds its root in the old English "freond" which was used as friend, lover, similar to the German "frijon" - "to love". The
Indo-European root goes back to the word "free". The root meanings here are -- not in bondage, noble, glad, illustrious, to be fond of, and to hold dear. In using "free" with "friend" then it could be concluded that a friend is 1) not under the control of the other person; that each friend is able to act or think without compulsion or arbitrary restriction; having liberty and independence 2) a friend is able to move in any direction; not held, as in chains; not kept from motion 3) a friend is not held or burdened by obligations, debts or discomforts 4) a friend is allowed to leave at any time and is not confined to the usual rules or patterns; not limited by convention or tradition 5) a friend is not restricted by anything except their own limitations or nature and 6) a friend is generous, liberal, frank and straightforward.
Friends and friendships then are a gift.
So in my religious philosophy I believe that God sees each person as a friend - even if that person may consider God an enemy. God wants a relationship with me and has chosen to extend love towards me. Of course not only me but each person, those I care about and those I don't.
Friendship with God is, by definition then, reserved for those who choose to enter into a "friend" relationship with God. But what does this relationship look like? I believe it is unique to each person. I realize that not everyone agrees with me. Yet it is my world view that God exists. Given that as my baseline (and I accept that there are other views in which God does not exist). But I am working to make sense of my own world view(s). I am quite sure I cannot make sense of anyone else's. Given my view that God exists, no longer does it matter to me if any one else thinks God exists.
And so I am coming to the conclusion that I can be a friend regardless of another person's response or opinion of me. I may not agree with their opinions, insights, or world views on any variety of topics.
Friendship is reserved for those who respond. I am not being a friend so another will reciprocate. If they do - wonderful.
When I try to restrict some one I profess to love I exclude myself from friendship with them. Nor will a friend require from me anything I cannot freely give.