The price of friendship – Guest post by Nancy Zimmerman July 26, 2008Posted by Raul in Blogathon 2008, friends.
Tags: Blogathon Vancouver 2008
This post was contributed by Nancy Zimmerman, who blogs at Nancy Zimmerman: A Money Coach
I’m a money coach, and obviously have had hundreds of conversations about how people handle their money. We talk about values and about how their spending aligns – or doesn’t – with their values.
We talk about objectives, and whether their spending habits will support – or not – those objectives.
In short, we work together to increase the client’s ability to be strategic and intentional with money.
I had a thought the other day. In our culture, we don’t often do the same for friendship. A lot of the time, we are friends in a happy, but haphazard, way. If the relationship is pleasurable (things in common, personality mix works) and convenient (geography and time works) the odds of the friendship sustaining over time are reasonably good.
In short, if things fall in place naturally and easily, we have friends.
But what about if there is a price to be paid, for the friendship?
What if the person has an aspect of their personality that deeply bothers us, or even hurts us?
What if the person’s schedule or geography makes it difficult to connect, in our own busy lives?
Our response is often to pull away from the friendship.
I wonder what the opportunity/cost is here, to use economic terms again.
Much has been written about commitment and romance, but we don’t here a lot about commitment and friendship. I wonder: if we got better at the latter as a culture, we we get better at the former?
What about our friendships? If another person has opened him or herself to me or you – by sharing their personhood, by letting us “in” on areas of their life, by connecting to us in some way: what price are we willing to pay? What value do we place on the friendship?
Often, a price we need to pay is forgiveness. As the intimacy increases with a friend, so does the likelihood that something will not work: That some aspects of us will not respond well to an aspect of the other.
In my own life, one of my most valued friends has an issue with lateness. Time and again, I am left stranded – and livid – waiting an hour or longer past the agreed time. I feel insulted and furious. Yet this friend is loyal, would come to the hospital at 3am if needed, and time and time again offers her wise insights after listening to me go on (and on) about something I am grappling with. The late issue very nearly cost us our friendship. It’s still an ongoing frustration.
And yet, this friend is worthy of my love and ongoing offer of friendship (and really, which human life isn’t?) despite this one crazy-making aspect.
As in romantic relationships, the only solution is the price of forgiveness. And not just once, but every.single.time it happens. Christ was once approached by one of his apostles, who was thoroughly pissed off by his brother. “How often,” the offended brother asked, “must I forgive that dude? Seven times?” (note, he was clearly keeping track!) Christ’s answer: 70 times 7. In other words, as often as it takes to keep the relationship going.
A very high standard, indeed. Would we pay that price?
Another price we often need to pay is inconvenience. I’m not sure where the balance is between setting our own boundaries, and self-care v. inconveniencing our life to sustain a friendship, but I suspect we frequently opt out of acts of friendship that are inconvenient. I know I do. My life is full, I have responsibilities, and gave away my car a few years ago. So for example, if the friend moves out of Vancouver proper, odds are not strong that I will continue to invest in the relationship. And yet, again, this human is priceless. Why then, will I not pay the price of an extra hour of commute time, as required to sustain the friendship? Or what if the best times to connect by phone require me to get up earlier or stay of later?
I don’t have answers for this. But I wonder what the effect would be both on individual character growth and the way in which we experience life, if we adopted a much deeper sense of intention and commitment with our friendships?
And resolved to pay a higher price than easy & convenient for all of our friendships? And I wonder what the effect would be on our culture as a whole?
Some thoughts at 4:33 am from a money coach 🙂
Nancy happens also to be a good friend of mine who lives in the Strathcona area, and therefore, is very passionate about issues related to homelessness and the Downtown East Side. Kudos to her!