In the past twenty-four hours, I have had two difficult conversations. In both cases, my part was well defined. I needed to listen. It seemed as if I was being asked to react. I could offer a view, if I wanted to add it to the mix. For the others involved, it was much harder. They had to be honest about something that they did not really want to be honest about. It was difficult for them to talk about something that was not positive. I candidly think they would have preferred that the conversation never needed to be. Yet, the conversations and trust are part of life.
As I think back over the conversations in my past, the one’s that stick seem to come with a high price. One may pay or receive, however friendship always has a price. In my life, across upside and down, I am wealthy and poor in extremes. The gifts of friends have often comes with a price tag that exceeded my ability to pay. It is a model that has transcended time and cultures. When, “with the help of his friends, Paul gave them the slip—caught a boat and put out to sea. Silas and Timothy stayed behind.” (Acts 17.14) The friends involved gave up Paul’s bail money and put their lives at risk. Then and now, it was a willingly price paid by friends for friendship.
Yet, friendship is never just about the price one side or both pays. In my experience, it centers on gifts willingly given and gratefully received. It is about sharing the load. It is about walking together. Given the nature of friendship, does either side really have a choice?
One of the hardest gifts I receive is one that is offered with no strings or conditions. It is simply a gift. The choice, at its heart, is simple. I accept the gift in the spirit it was given or the friendship ends.
I may not like my choice. I can try to reciprocate. Regardless, the gift remains as is. It is friendship’s child.