Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Gift of Friendship

Melissa invited us for a home-cooked dinner on Monday night. Since we eat out everyday, an invitation to a home-cooked meal is always something we eagerly look forward to.

We were full of aniticipation and we were not disappointed. In fact we could not believe that the sumptuous spread before us came out of a home kitchen. But that should have been expected because Priscilla is an extraordinarily good cook.

What a yummy spread! Restaurant standard home-cooked food.
We dined on Dry Chicken Curry, Tau Eu Bak cooked with lean pork (the kind we like!), taukua and eggs, Assam Prawns, Jiu Hoo Char with lettuce, Fried Broccoli with Mushrooms, and Beef Soup with Radish and Carrots. 

CK is a really blessed man. Imagine coming home every day to restaurant-style cooking. After dinner the two girls cleared up, leaving the adults to chat. So ho mia (literally "good life" in Hokkien)! This is the blessing of having many children and having them around (no use if they are far away).

We had a wonderful evening with the family together with BA and Jessy. We went home with a warm feeling of appreciation for this rare and special blessing of the company of good friends that we are privileged to enjoy. 

This is what real, genuine, authentic friendship is all about – when you can be so comfortable with one other that things like lack of hair, skinniness or fat in the wrong places can be brought up freely in conversation because comments are made without malice and received without offence. As Ralph Waldo Emerson says, "It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them!" We can just be ourselves.

CK and Priscilla are our old friends. We've known each other for 30 years but we weren't really that close for most of those years. We were all busy raising our children, taking care of our aged parents and making a living to spend a lot of time together. It is only now when our children are grown, our parents have passed on, and we are quite settled in life that we have the time to nurture our friendship and reclaim those lost years.

We have gotten very comfortable with one another, like a pair of old shoes. That night we even went to the extent of suggesting the possibility of some potentially unsuitable suitors coming to call on CK's two daughters.....just to see his reaction. All I can say is: Don't mess with him when it comes to his precious girls.

At the same time, a long history is not really necessary for a great friendship. We've only known BA and Jessy for 10 years, or slightly more than that, and along the way we have found them to be kindred spirits who are sharing, caring and very easy to get along. 

I think the key to a great friendship is the degree of "easy-to-get-along-ness" you share.

Some people are not easy to get along and most of the time it's because they are ultra-sensitive, taking every innocent remark personally. This makes it very difficult to have a normal conversation with them because you feel like you are walking on egg shells. 

You have to choose your words so carefully that you either end up not saying anything of substance, or not saying anything at all. Everything becomes very contrived. Even after taking every precaution and choosing every word with care, anything you say can still be and, very often, will be misconstrued.

Titus 1:15 is so applicable to people like that: "To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled." 

They think 
that people think like that 
they themselves 
think like that!

I get very frustrated and demoralized around these people because nothing I say or do is accepted in good faith. But most of the time, I pity them. They must lead such sad lives – behind the high walls of defensiveness and across deep, wide moats of aloofness – always thinking that people are out to get them. 
As much as I want to be friendly to as many people as possible, I find it wiser and less troublesome to minimise involvement with such "prickly" people. Instead I try to spend more time with people who are easy to get along with and who don't have such hang-ups. More fun, less stress, live longer. 
You may think that this is contrary to the Great Commandment but I beg to differ. Notice that the Lord's commandment is to love our neighbours (including our enemies), not to like them. There's a big difference between loving and liking. I can sincerely say that I love them, that is, I wish them well, I will pray for and with them, rejoice with them and weep with them, but that doesn't mean I want to be stranded on a desert island with them! 

To quote Robert Louis Stevenson, "A friend is a gift you give yourself." Would you give yourself a gift that brings you sorrow? 
The Lord has blessed me with many good "gifts" in my life. I pray that I too, am a good "gift" to them as well.

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