By Rev Paul N. Papas II
30 January 2012
To Friend or Unfriend – That Is The Question
Those who are on a social network are familiar with the newly added word to the New Oxford American Dictionary, unfriendIt is described as a verb”to remove someone as a friend on a social networking Web site”. How did we get there?
A genuine friend is someone who sticks by you through thick and thin. A genuine friend is one who shores up the other in times of discouragement or fear.
A genuine friend is someone who you can share your most intimate thoughts with and know they will not be shared to others.
In today’s world it is not uncommon for people who just met to get introduced as a friend to someone else. In today’s world people can become friends without knowing a thing about the other person – with a click of a mouse. With the same click you can be unfriended without ever having talked or got to know the person.
There are people who insist on knowing every minor detail of your life as soon as you meet, they are just busybodies. Friendships are built upon trust and faith. Once people build up a rapport with each other then trust begins to build in a genuine friendship. Trust that your life’s intimate details won’t soon be found on the evening news or on the internet is part of the faith you build in that friendship. Genuine friendships are built and strengthened through hours of talking and sharing, not by sending a resume. You are not applying for a job; you are building a commitment to be there for each other. It is not uncommon to find genuine friendships begin in childhood and last a lifetime.
Let’s say you were injured in a car accident and ended up in the hospital. You may receive many cards, letters, flowers and visitors wishing you well. Your friends would be there to support you, even when you got home.
Let’s say you were sent to the hospital because of an episode from the medical condition of a mental illness. You may receive a few visits from your family, along with a card or two. It is possible that friends you had may not visit you because they don’t know what to say, or they are just busy.
Remember, a genuine friend is someone who sticks by you through thick and thin. A genuine friend is one who shores up the other in times of discouragement or fear.
The difference you see in the above two hospitalizations could be that word we fight to erase – Stigma. The Stigma of the unwanted medical condition of a mental illness is akin to having leprosy. A big difference between leprosy and unwanted medical condition of a mental illness is that with the unwanted medical condition of a mental illness you can touch and hug and it won’t rub off. It is a tough thing for someone to be saddled with unwanted medical condition of a mental illness, it is also isolating.
This month is known for Valentine’s Day. This month there will be many cards and boxes of chocolates exchanged. It is a good thing to give your loved ones a special reminder of your love for them, however does it just have to be once a year?
A smile and an encouraging word are always welcomed to people you don’t even know. Why not share them with those you know?
This month you can give a special gift to your loved ones and those you met. I don’t mean to run out at the last minute to buy a box of chocolates either. Give some time to those you know, become a genuine friend to a person or two and you will have a genuine friend or two.
There is plenty of negative stuff bombarding us on the news. People need a safe place to share their thoughts which is what a genuine friend can offer. Are you ready to be a genuine friend or would you prefer people unfriend you?
Reverend Paul N. Papas II is a Pastoral Counselor with Narrow Path Ministries (MA and AZ) and Founder of the Family Renewal Center (AZ).