How do we know who our real friends are?
We don’t need to.
This is probably not the smartest thing to write about publicly, but it’s something that greatly bothered me today as I attended my friend’s funeral. I wasn’t the closest to him, but during the short time I knew him when I was in college, he patiently taught me professional web development and shared a love of video games which was rare those days. He was so hard-working that he worked full-time through college to not rely on his parents yet still completed it in four years to maintain a full-scholarship. He devoted his life to his job all that time until his tragic passing. He was hardly older than me.
Today as I knelt in front of his body I felt dizzy and nearly passed out, but luckily I didn’t because who am I to cause a scene in front of his grieving family? I hadn’t seen him for more than a year because I let my personal struggles hinder me from staying in contact with him. He also removed me from Skype and Steam once I wasn’t an active part of his life anymore, a year ago when I went back to school. But I never tried to reach out to him. I deeply regret it because if it had been now, I would have tried to talk to him about why he thought I wasn’t his friend anymore just because we no longer saw each other all the time.
I also think my friend deserved a better funeral service. There was a pastor who read generic Bible verses about how he won’t leave us as long as we cherish our memories, and that God doesn’t want the family to grieve too much. Then he also READ A PRAYER for the family, which is just so wrong. Prayer is supposed to be a heartfelt conversation with God, not some script to be used as a facade. My friend’s family was not religious, but even so an empathetic prayer to comfort them should have been a given.
Then there were the welcome cards. On it, it listed his name, date of birth, and date of death, then had one little quote. “It is tough times like these that we know who our real friends are.”
That line is meant to be comforting, but instead it achieves the opposite affect long term. Because does it take death to know who our real friends are? That’s just so heartbreaking. Why do we have to live by dividing people into Real Friend verses Just A Friend? And how do we divide it? By caring less about Just A Friend than Real Friend? By spending less time with Just A Friend than Real Friend? By having more expectations from Real friend than from Just A Friend? By expecting Real Friend to come to a funeral and Just A Friend to flake?
What if we are meant to have close relationships with all people? Humans are social creatures who desire comfort and security. It does not mean we actually have to be close to everyone since people will differ when it comes to how many friends each prefers, and it also does not mean we can’t be closer to some than others. But it does mean thinking of everyone as an equal. Equally worthy of receiving the same love. It’s more important to be the real friend than sort real friends out of friends. I used to wonder why some of my friends would put so much effort into dealing with my struggles especially since many of them hardly knew me, but now I understand exactly why.
That’s the message I want to share when I become a missionary. Being a missionary likely means I won’t be in many of my friends’ lives in the future, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t my real friends. It doesn’t mean I will stop talking to them because they can’t physically be there for me and vice versa. It doesn’t mean I won’t try my best to make it to momentous occasions in their lives. Or invite them to mine.
To my friend who passed away, I’m sorry I didn’t learn this sooner. But I pray that you rest in peace.