I have always been astounded by the power friends have to bring hurt. Friends are people you trust to have access to your feelings, your thoughts, your information, on good faith and with love. They are people you share yourself with, that you let yourself be known to, vulnerable to, and they have an amazing power in their hands. And failing their consciousness around their own power, with some careless handling, this power can truly destroy.
Friendship has been a very strong theme on this blog. There have been many hurts, many vents, many priceless moments, and many lessons learned over the course of the past (almost) year. I have described the dangers of weak girls as friends, the impossibility of friendship with the man whore, the power of girlfriends, the need to be touched and comforted that is experienced by single women, the honoured place of the platonic husband, the desire for someone to be nice to in every one of us. This blog has been dedicated to everything BUT romance, but even in this dedication the need for togetherness is recognized as absolutely vital.
In recent days I had a challenging experience with more than one friend. I use the term friend still because I am not sure yet what to do about any of it. Forgiveness is in order… I acknowledge it makes no sense to hold on to hurt. But is reconciliation? Does it make any sense to hold on to people who hurt? I realize that in each case my friend and I see friendship from very different vantage points. I realize that we have two different sets of values. And I realize that values in friendship are important.
In chewing on my environment I have learned a few things about friendship. Two main values in particular jump out that are absolutely key.
1. The Values of the Friend
What is a friend? In thinking this through and determining whether my friend is truly a friend I have come to understand that what is inside a person is what the person is. I know this sounds simple. And I know it sounds airy fairy as well. But hear me out. What is inside the person is what the person is. A person’s actions, words, language, mannerisms all come out of their character. Their character comes from the actions that they have practiced into habit and second nature. The actions they have practiced into second nature and habit have come from decisions they have made to do this instead of that, go here instead of there, say this at this time and not say that at the next moment. These decisions have been made from their values. In what the person decides to be the thing they should do, “SHOULD” itself is defined by their values.
A person’s character is a dynamic thing yes. But it is complete. In this moment they are exactly what they are. No more no less. Their past is not here anymore. Their potential hasn’t yet come into being. Only what they are today is present with you. What they value today is all that is. Sure, they may have the necessary raw material to grow in a certain direction… but will they choose to? Yes, they may have all the potential in the world… but what is potential other than a belief of what could be? It certainly is not what is. Sure, I accept that they could grow. But they have not yet grown, not at this moment, anywhere beyond where they are. And waiting for a person to grow and come around to a place of being where you feel you can have a relationship with them that is mutually fulfilling can turn into throwing years of time away, gambling with your most precious possession of life itself, and casting your pearls before swine.
2. Alignment of Values is the definition of trust
Another thing I learned came out of a conversation with one of my brothers. He said something that has resounded within me for hours, bouncing and echoing through the hallways and channels of my brain and my veins. It came from something he had read recently on Trust. The author of whatever it was put it to their readers that trust is what is present when values are the same.
Think about it before I go any further. Chew on the phrase a little while. Trust is what is present when values are the same.
It isn’t some special ingredient or result at the end of a formula. It isn’t something manufactured, packaged in plastic, and sold from the shelves to supermarket shoppers. It doesn’t come from listening to self-help gurus and conjuring spells from witch doctors. It isn’t the immediate result of an “I Do” or an “I swear”. It only shows up where values are shared.
Let’s go back to number 1. If it is true that “What is inside the person is what the person is.” And if “A person’s actions, words, language, mannerisms all come out of their character,” which is at the very foundation “determined by their values.” Then the alignment of values, the sameness of foundation, is where trust exists.
Taking an example, there are two people who meet for the first time. They are put in the same place to work on the same project together as a team. The people are very different – one is tall the other short, one is a man the other a woman, one is from Africa the other from Asia. But let us say that both have at the core of their being a value system based on honesty, directness, diligence and pride in their work. How likely is it that they will be honest with eachother, appreciating the honesty in the other? How likely is it that they will not be offended by eachother’s directness? How likely is it that they will trust eachother more and more as they learn that they both take pride in their work and are dedicated to working diligently for it to happen? At the end of this project how do you see their trust relationship looking?
Take another pair. They are both men, both American, same height, same home town, speak the same language, and they shop at the same store. But say one has a value system based on honesty, directness, diligence and pride in his work. And the other has a value system based on creative diplomacy, expedience, politeness, and pride in his paycheck. How likely is it that directness will butt heads with politeness? How about expedience and diligence? Honesty and creative diplomacy? How well will pride in ones work fit in with pride in ones paycheck? Can you see how this might be a recipe for disaster?
Out of the values of a person springs the seed of who they are and what they do. Out of shared values sprouts trust. Out of trust grows friendship. And out of friendship blossoms love.