FOCUS on authentic friendship

As we sat down to try writing an article together this week, Hayden Merkel, was reminded of one of his favorite bands, Coldplay, and their song “Up & Up.” He pointed out that the line, “Sitting with the poison takes away the pain” was later transformed into “when you think you’ve had enough, don’t ever give up. Don’t ever give up. Believe in love.”

The song is about reclaiming your dreams and rising higher, not letting yourself be lulled into a mediocre life. Our friends are often the ones who help direct us in our journey. After all, “there is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship” said St. Thomas Aquinas.

Hayden and I graduated from college a little over a year ago, and we were athletes at our respective schools. Many times, our teams would drink excessively, and we would hear of teammates who experienced the curiosity, the pain, and oftentimes the emptiness, that came with many of those parties. I spoke with one of my friends a couple weeks ago who recently turned 21, and she described her experience of a hangover. After getting coffee and catching up, I asked her about why she desired to get drunk. My love for her inspired me to really try to understand her better and understand her desires. Her answers surprised me. Her first reason being, that in the business of life she wanted something that would help her to de-stress and forget about life’s struggles. Her second reason being, loneliness. I can speak for most of us when I say that those are feelings that so many, if not all of us, experience. I am here to tell you that you are not alone and that there are so many other ways to fill that emptiness or hurt than with alcohol. I could be quick and say that Jesus can fill this void, but a relationship with Him takes time and often begins with a Christ-centered friendship. I beg you to be that friend to someone who is hurting. Be vulnerable and share your hurts and joys with the people closest to you, just as my friend did with me. Ask hard questions. Don’t ever give up.

So we have a couple of questions for you this week: What is a friend? What makes a good friend? What kind of friend are you? If you’ve been blessed with a lifetime of solid friendships, give praise and thanksgiving.

Francesca Battistelli writes a song called “If We’re Honest” where she sings, “Truth is harder than a lie, The dark seems safer than the light, And everyone has a heart that loves to hide,” but she shows later that “if we’re honest then there’s mercy on the other side” and “friends get closer.” So let’s be honest with each other and call each other to make changes in our lives, running towards sainthood.

“Friendship is the most necessary thing in life, since no one wishes to live without friends even if he has all other goods” wrote Aristotle. Let’s challenge each other to be authentic, virtuous friends, who make a difference in the world, and laugh with real joy while we do it. An article won’t change your life, but a solid, good friend will.

We invite you to come to our Block Party this weekend, Saturday, Oct. 7, at 1325 Cummins Street any time from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., for espresso shots, a root beer keg, games that test your strength and make you laugh, and music that makes you want to dance all day. Bring a friend, and meet some new friends, and see what life fully alive looks like.

-The FOCUS Missionaries

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