Ways of Uniting

“Some friendships are made by nature; some by contract; some by interest; and some by souls. And in proportion to these ways of uniting, so the friendships are greater or less, virtuous or natural, profitable or holy, or all of this together.” – Jeremy Taylor, “A Discourse on Friendship,” 1657.

How much lighter and fuller do you think your heart would be were you to be free of those so-called friends who in reality are little more than sycophants or leeches, those whose ultimate goal is to withdraw from you more than they deposit? Many potentially wonderful people have destroyed their lives by associating with the wrong people, but you need not do the same.

Friendships made by contract or interest are inherently less durable than those made by nature or souls. Holding on to friends equally, then, can lead to problems down the road. The failure to let go of friends when the time is right is no different than refusing to put away other childish things, such as a baby blanket or a favorite childhood toy. Attention paid to vestigial friends will limit the time you have to spend on those who truly matter.

A second type of “friend” to handle with caution is he or she who plays the martyr. Martyrs are zealous givers who give feverishly to avoid having to face the pressure of receiving. Their relentless giving frequently serves a genuine need, but it is sometimes barbed with a selfish intention to pique guilt in those whom they serve and to trap them, thereby, more deeply in their web. True friends give and receive freely.

7 thoughts on “Ways of Uniting

  1. Carol

    I’ve appreciated your posts this week on friendship Gregg. I read once that very few people feel they have more than a handful of true friends in their lifetime yet I think most have a sensing that we should have deep friendships with more than just a few people.

    Earlier this week, one person commented that she very often found friendships developed when working on an endeavor with others and that’s very true. You find yourself paired with someone you might not ordinarily spend time with and discover a new friend as a result. Leaving behind friendships that were at one point purposeful can be heart-wrenching. Life is always seeking to move things forward especially in our relationships. I appreciated David’s comment regarding discretion, wisdom and restraint.

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  2. Joy

    One of the benefits of giving with no thought for results is that you never feel put upon or disappointed. Giving is the very nature of life, as is a little pruning from time to time. Your considerations this week Gregg offer wonderful opportunity to allow for the weight of dead wood to be relinquished, thus making way for lusty new growth to emerge. Life on this basis is full of excitement.

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  3. Steve V

    Your words bring a stir to my heart. I am urged to evaluate the nature of my associations relative to the freely giving and receiving in respect to myself and those I am with. I can further see how much is motivated by a need to be liked. Your words articulate the essentials of untangling the mix that creates slavery opening the door to an experience of freedom. Much to consider here and apply.

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  4. David R

    Usually friendship is considered in a positive light, as though any friendship were better than none. Experience tells a different tale, however! How we handle the currents of love and friendship tend to define the fulfillment or lack thereof for virtually every person.

    There is something to be said for discretion, wisdom and even restraint, because it really isn’t all about us individually or our friendships, for that matter. Friendship is priceless and sacred when it is pure and clear, but our relationships either serve a higher purpose or they fuel our demise and the misery of others. the sooner we recognize that fact, the more creative and genuinely fulfilling our lives will be!

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  5. Colin

    These are great points to remember, as we all will run into all of these types of people during our lives. It is not that we always have to be furiously auditing friends (although that can be helpful occasionally), but there is a natural weight of importance that we should understand when we are dealing with people. There is no need to put them in a category, however. When you are living a virtuous life, your friends and associates will categorize themselves. It is when you compromise what you know is right to extend a relationship that should be diminishing because you feel guilty about it that you have created a problem.

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  6. Isabelle

    I would rather have one good friend than a bevy of “friends” who fall into any of these categories. I’ve found that those friendships that are really based in integrity are the ones that are timeliness. Those that are not, should be culled or allowed to fade away.

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  7. Lady Leo

    Learning to give and to receive are basic necessities to all life creating relationships. There is a power to being able to give and a vulnerability to receiving. They are the balance that develops a character that is seamless and durable. Sometimes it’s been easier to do one or the other but the oil of love brings that mechanism into balance. It’s not a measured exchange but it builds according to rhythms outside of our control, if we are willing to listen to our inner voice or higher nature. Friendships based in this are eternal as they produce the very fabric of creation.

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