Allowing Friends to Change

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By Carolyn Shields

Something we’ve all come across before is the reality that someone we once knew is no longer the same person. And that’s ok. Change is good. I freaking hate change, but change is necessary. It can truly stink Shrek style when you come home for Christmas break and a bunch of high school fellas no longer seem to be the same people.

James Martin writes, “Part of friendship is also giving the other person the freedom to grow and change. The desire for friendship should not overshadow the friend.” We can’t force them to be something they aren’t. One, it’s impossible. Two, that’s like asking a raisin to become a grape again. It’s like how God loves us for who we are, not who we strive to be or want to be, or was, but He loves us right now. Similarly, we must love our brothers and sisters at where they are too. But it can be tough, schhhhhyeah, it can be tough as nails meeting our friends where they are at on their road to Calvary, especially when we know where they’ve come from. But then we must become their Simon.

 Martin says that one of the biggest killers of marriages is the lack of freedom to grow and change. Think of that: do you think our parents are the same as they were when they got hitched twenty some years ago? Probably not, but their hearts haven’t changed, and that’s what we should be looking at.

Jacques Philippe writes that we have little real influence on other people, so our efforts to change them only have a bit of success. This is because most of the time we try to change them how we want them to be, to fit our criteria in what we need from them. This is why we must work as a channel. Because we trip ourselves. I kept thinking after my breakup how much I wanted to fix how he was feeling, or what he wasn't feeling. And that's not up to me. I wanted to change him for myself, and that whole deal was covered in selfishness.

It's ok for someone to grow and change. Sometimes, it's ok to let them go, too. There are three types of friendship according to Aristotle, and only one of them is lasting: 

1) Friendship of Utility. Think, coworkers. You probably don't hang out after work, but between 9 and 5, you're both peachey with each other. You help each other pass the time, split the workload, chitchat and that's all good. If one of you moves you will miss the other for a little, but life goes on.

2) Friendship of Pleasure: These friendships are normally centered around hobbies, sports, etc. Only one of your girlfriends is normally up for clubbing? Pleasure. Only one really enjoys a good latte? Pleasure.  

3) Friendship of Good: Lame name. But this one is based on mutual respect and admiration, constantly seeking the good of the other person. If I truly love him, I can't change him to fit my contorted wants. What's best for him right now may not be what's best for me, but I can love us both through it. These friendships come through sharing the same values and are normally--surprise--rooted in either childhood or college. If we have this type of friendship, a friend's change won't damage the relationship. It will change it, but if it's for their good, it's important to support them through it.