The Love of a Friend
I don’t know how to process the love of a friend. It’s strange really.
I often tell my mother that I love her. We grew up saying that to each other, usually before going to bed at night. Eventually, this gesture translated to my brothers as well. How far we’ve come from being brothers who’d put each other down for being too fat or punch each other for some silly reason to brothers who end phone conversations with, “Love you bro.”
A close friend that I grew up with recently said that he loved me. It’s not the first time. He’s a great friend. But, it’s still strange to me. Why? Why is it strange to hear those words from a male friend any more than a brother?
Is it because I have a tendency to smile only upon love between family members, as though I believe there is a secret pact between family members that others cannot share? Am I exclusive and possessive with regards to who can love me?
Or, is it because it obligates me to love the friend in return? Certainly if love is more than just saying that you love someone, that shouldn’t be a problem –spending quality time together, exchanging positive or humorous and uplifting words, giving gifts or doing something nice for another is a gesture common to all friendships at some point and on some level. Are these not small ways of saying “I love you.”?
Perhaps in a homosexual society, i.e. any society where people have raging hormones and poor self-restraint from a lack of a moral foundation (carry the cross), expressing love for another of the same sex is forbidden on some psychosexual level unless there is a “good reason” to do so, such as being family members.
Is this the way it should be? Are we too protective of the words, “I love you.”? And yet, how much would we benefit from hearing those words from close friends now and then?
Perhaps this is not a problem among women, perhaps they often share those words with each other. Women tend to be a lot less concerned with their ego than men. Accordingly, they seem to have less to lose if their gesture of goodwill is not returned. Perhaps its too risky for one man to say to another that he loves him… “What if he freaks out and I never hear from him again?” Or, “What if he thinks I’m gay?”
For some men, that latter consideration would be the ultimate upset to manliness. “How dare I be submissive in any way!”
Perhaps in a culture where sexual permissiveness is evermore recognized as a way of life, such an apprehensive attitude is not all that bad –it may help people stay on the straight and narrow that leads to a more fulfilling life. Certainly this is true if a person with a family has more opportunities to say and hear, “I love you” than would otherwise be the case. Alternatively, perhaps we should tell our close friends more often how much they mean to us and how much we appreciate them, whether through those three simple words of affirmation or through similar love languages.
If St. Paul suggested that we greet each other with a kiss as members of the Body of Christ, how much more should we feel comfortable in telling those dear to us that we love them?
“I love you bro.”
“Hey sis, I love you.”
If you’re like me, the thought may give you the bajeebers on some level. But then again, a lot of things that are initially uncomfortable end up being good for us in the long run… like a shot in the arm or a spoonful of nasty medicine.
It’s easy to write about the subject, but more difficult, perhaps even manly, to do what it might suggest. How blessed are those with less an ego!
image courtesy of http://www.mazapoint.com