Friday, December 10, 2010

The Therapy of True Friendship

Do you think he or she is really your friend?

The world focuses on the "bottom line." Relationships are often measured in self-centered ways. The question "What's in it for me?" is a common agenda. People feign friendship only for the "profit" it brings. It shouldn't surprise us then that many of us get hurt and disillusioned with this kind of counterfeit "friendship" fostered by secular society.

"There are friends who pretend to be friends ..."  (Proverbs 18: 24a).

True friendship heals. It's life-giving, redemptive. It teaches us that there is more to life than the utilitarian or what can be measured by the so-called bottom line.  It treats and accepts people unconditionally without any tangible return. True friendship shines during two extremes of life - notable success and notable failure.

"... there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24b).

In Scripture, the story of Jonathan and David demonstrates the therapy of true friendship (2 Samuel 1:26; 1 Samuel 18: 1-4; 1 Samuel 20: 1-42). David was a broken man. The father of Jonathan (King Saul) tried repeatedly to kill David. Only one man - Jonathan (the king's son) - dared to stand publicly with David. And he did so even though he knew that David would someday become the king, a crown that was Jonathan's by inheritance. Jonathan's friendship was so uncorrupted that he chose to sacrifice his dream and put his life in peril for the sake of his friend David.

In my own therapy practice, a lot come because they are broken by "fake friends" or simply in short supply of true friends.  This is the reason why, in my privilege to walk alongside them, my attitude is always that of a "fellow human being" first, and second only as their therapist. Though limited by the natural boundaries of humanness and other factors, I believe in the possibility and hope of true friendship as a significant healing agent, even in a psychotherapy relationship.

Jesus said: "... I have called you friends" (John 15:5).

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