by Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Friendship is indeed a reflection of the divine. However, we must examine what exactly true friendship is in comparision to other relationships which are either lesser friendships or which masquerade themselves as friendships.

Let us define the levels of friendships:

The friendship of use is a friendship of utility, one which has the possibility of being led to a true friendship, however in most cases it goes no further than a relationship for a limited period of time in order to fulfill a particular need. An example of such a friendship of use would be a high school student who is poor in reading skills seeking a tutor. The next type of friendship is the friendship of pleasure, and this type is most unable to develop into a true friendship as it can be selfish when lacking in virtue, and as pleasure is impermanent yet pain inevitable, it cannot last very easily when it is faced with pain and suffering or any slight disturbance. Such friendship can be ‘junkfood friendships’ if they exist apart from friendships of virtue, away from a striving for true friendship. Apart from this, they only fill a void in our life yet do not truly nourish and sustain us. An example of such a friendship of pleasure would be a sexual relationship without a commitment, ‘beer drinking’ buddies, or even a relationship where the persons find pleasure not really in each others compay but in a particular activity. The highest level of friendship requires a transformation of the persons. This is the process of a true friendship, both persons are transformed, and we must realize that the true friendship cannot exist apart from virtue. A true friendship is attainable by any person. To develop towards a true friendship there will be a need for pain and suffering, this is the testing by which the friendship is ‘tried by fire’ to see if it will stand, and through this pain and suffering, kenosis, the self emptying, by which we give up our own will and seek to be fully united our friend.

Before joy can blossom, before a friendship can blossom, it must first endure and understand the opposing force, for then it is pointed to the more profound and the more lasting understanding of what joy is all about. The other necessity for the true friendship to blossom is commonality Commonality does not mean sameness, it does not imply that we must be identical in order for the friendship to last and be meaningful, rather that we must have a goal in which we share in common. The main building block of the true friendship is trust, without trust there can never be a bridge from the lesser friendships to the realization of a true friendship. The need for friendship exists within our nature itself, as we are created as social beings needing others for our own physical, emotional, and spiritual survival.