2010 Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God's wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions.
Recently I have given a great deal of thought to what a true and lasting friendship should be and it occurs to me that it, like anything else in my life, must mirror my relationship with Christ and His Church. I am called to be a complete Christian. I cannot bifurcate my life and only be a Catholic Out Loud when it suits me or when it is safe to be so or when it is easy because everything is going my way. In that same manner, if I am to give myself to someone in friendship I must be willing to let them know the complete me and I must be willing to look at them with the eyes of Christ.
Now, in today's world we are so childish we misinterpret the above sentiment to mean that a real friend puts no expectations on us, does not hold us to any standard of behavior and will put up with any falderrahl and goofiness we wish to dish out. When someone says to us, "Hey, you do not get to do that here!" we are hurt and puzzled. Aren't they are friend? Aren't they supposed to love us with Christian Love and accept us for who we are, come what may?
This attitude of babyish demands for acceptance is perpetrated by Facebook Memes and Pineterest Posts. 'A Real Friend Will Always Be There No Matter What You Do' is the dominant theme, words usually written over a background of a woman with long dark hair, wearing a flowing dress, either standing on a cliff over looking the sea or walking along the beach or a long dusty road. They are usually alone.
I am convinced they are alone because no one wants to be around them.
If the meme does have two humans in it, it is usually a picture of two children around the age of 5.
Our society today has mistaken true friendship for kind of disinterested hedonism. If you are to be my friend then by golly you better accept me for exactly who I am right this minute, and don't you dare put any expectations on me. After all, I am perfect - Mama's little darling and Daddy's little delight. I get trophies for showing up on time and if I want something you better give it to me right now! I am six years old when I am close to 40 and I am whiny and I am demanding that you tell me I am beautiful when my behavior is atrocious.
I just do not think this is real friendship.
If my behavior is supposed to mirror the behavior of Christ, I must be willing to look at what my friendship with Christ is - and Christ puts demands on me. Christ commands me to behave in a certain way. If I do not take certain actions, Christ will claim He does not know me. If I choose to behave in ways that cause Him pain, He will never stop loving me but He will not allow me into His Kingdom.
Why would someone on earth be expected to be different?
If I behave in a way that is contrary to social norms, that causes pain or anguish to someone, that is disrespectful and angry and demanding and childish why in the world would I expect them to allow me to be a part of their life?
And why would I ever think that anyone who did not expect me to live up to my potential and a true Child of God be anything other than a false friend?
Nope, I cannot hold to that idea. I think, and I believe and I live, that it is my responsibility to hang with those who want the best of me. I think I would be foolish to hang out with anyone who rubber stamps my emotional tantrums, my bad behavior, my unwillingness to be a better Leslie one day at a time.
So, for me friendships mean more than just being able to hang out in a coffee shop. I want people in my life who want my highest good.
What do you want in your life?