“Perhaps it’s the clarity that comes from enduring a difficult period, but I’ve noticed, in myself and others, a diminishing tolerance for uncomfortable or unfulfilling social interactions,” Melissa Kirsch recently wrote in The New York Times. Reflecting on the impacts of the pandemic, Kirsch repeated what has become cultural orthodoxy: If certain relationships are a drag on your health, time, happiness, or resources, ditch them.
Of course, Scripture says that “bad company corrupts good morals.” But it also says to “bear one another’s burdens” and to not only “love our neighbor” but also our enemies.
In other words, friendships are so fragile today because our modern notions of friendship get it almost exactly backwards. Selfish instead of self-giving, the character ingredients a friendship needs in order to survive are incredibly rare: humility, patience with the faults of others, a willingness to laugh at ourselves.
G.K. Chesterton put it this way: “Sociability, like all good things, is full of discomforts, dangers, and renunciations.” Real friendship just isn’t for the self-interested. That’s why it’s rare. That’s also why it’s worth it.
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