PSYCHIC vs. SPIRITUAL
Most of us depend on the support and help
of family and friends to get safely through life. We all need
someone with whom we can share secrets, weaknesses, hopes and
dreams. Components of friendship include mutual trust, respect,
understanding, encouragement and affection. Friendships are also
fragile. No one is perfect. So, forgiveness and honest apology
One writer refers to two kinds of friendship.
One, called 'psychic' friendship, relies on the natural affinities,
responses and capacities of those involved, including like-mindedness,
attraction of opposites and shared interests. Affection found
in 'psychic' friendship seeks immediate contact with the other
person. The other kind is called 'spiritual' friendship, with
spiritual interaction that depends on moral and spiritual principles
that are not always fully appreciated. All friendships are a mixture
of both kinds, but tend to belong more to one than another.
Friendship that says "I need you"
is basically selfish and possessive, stifling freedom, encouraging
fear. "I want you" clearly selfish, also promotes fear,
when unrestrained desire pressures others. Sexual passion belongs
within a mutual and healthy love relationship.
Lust, unrelated to care and commitment, generates
enormous negative, destructive tension. Easy sexual relations
of all kinds, instead of making supportive and intimate friendship
more available, have helped destroy it, despite the longings people
"I care for you" expresses something
different and is far more constructive to friendship. Selfish
love creates fear and builds barriers. Selfless love dissolves
fear, creating space for security and fun. A giving friendship
is good for all, bad for none, releasing people's potential, encouraging
greatness and building confidence, like sunshine ripening fruit.
Whether unselfish activity comes from God's influence, is an
open question. I am coming to believe that they are inseparable.
Some reject God, having experienced hurt,
failure, injustice or rejection, but life keeps on introducing
experiences that speak of hope, joy, beauty, mystery and the unexpected.
What if divine friendship is a possibility after all? It may
be risky to experiment openly with this mystery long enough to
listen for the 'voice within', but what can we lose? What if
we discover a warm presence surrounding us and begin to experience
the transforming friendship of God, without strings attached?
Those who would give friendship need to know
they are loved, and be secure in that love. The quality of divine
love is capable of melting and healing all past hurts and heartaches
and opening us up to creative friendship for all.
Ian Parsons, Australia
FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES
I was the prefect on duty at my all girls
English boarding school. Susan, obnoxious, rebellious, popular
and feared among her peers, was at her rudest that evening. I
told her to report to me after the meal. I sifted through all
the possible punishments I was entitled to deliver. Nothing threatened
Susan. I sat in a corner and prayed, not something I had tried
before in this sort of situation, and I asked God to give me a
clue. Susan slouched up to me, her henchwomen looking on and
giggling. I took her into a side room and closed the door. Looking
her in the eyes, I asked gently, "Why are you so unhappy?"
The truculent sneer vanished and she dissolved into tears. She
cried and cried. Then she began to tell me about the break up
of her parents and the uncertainty of her future which might involve
leaving school. We talked for a long time. We talked of her
preciousness to God and a security found in relationship there.
We talked of how she might prepare herself and how she might
help her parents whatever lay ahead. Susan was taken out of school
three weeks later, but in that time she was a changed person.
She was peaceful, smiled a lot and was free to make real friends.
I was asked by some what I'd done. And I could honestly say
I'd done nothing but ask a simple question, which popped into
my mind when I took a few minutes space to listen.
Jean Brown, Adelaide
IDENTITY THROUGH INTEGRITY?
For myself to write about friendship was like
being given a key but not being able to go through the door.
I have had to look deep within myself to convey the sense of my
experiences. I guess I never believed in myself; I could not
listen to myself, so I listened to others. It became easier to
let other people become dictating shepherds over me. A bewildered
lamb follows anything which helps it to be needed, it doesn't
question which way to go, it just follows its leader. Fashioned
by those I followed blindly, I did not impress myself, so I lived
to impress others. I never met my real self, as I never allowed
myself to be who I really was.
During my early years of High School, I spent
a lot of time with a group of friends who seemed to have everything
that I wanted. Freedom without responsibility, good times and
After a year with these supposed friends,
living their lifestyle, I felt very disillusioned and alone.
No-one was there for anyone when the good times ended. These
friendships and one in particular, were very destructive and unsatisfying.
Though my parents were always there for me, I had shut myself
off from them and didn't listen.
The pain was indescribable when I realised
the friendships I had maintained for so long were nothing but
a delusion. I stood alone and my house built on sand blew away.
For the first time I saw myself alone and scared. To avoid further
personal destruction I felt that drastic changes had to be made,
such as a change of school, a change in all social activities
and making time to be by myself. I needed to discover what real
friendship was all about.
Had I not made these changes, I may never
have learnt to think for myself, to look inside and discover the
underlying insecurities that, if not healed, would have travelled
through my life with me, expressing themselves in selfishness,
jealousy and anger. I now feel liberated and free, all because
I 'dared to be real'.
Follow the foundation of truth and honesty
and you will never be alone. You will befriend yourself and feel
safe within God's walls of security.
I now have the most beautiful friendships.
No one follows anyone, we walk in a large flock, side by side
with the true Shepherd who leads. There is respect, space is
given for individuals to grow, forgiveness is granted and thoughts
are owned. I now have an established identity in the rock of
God's friendship, so I can go back to those sands of delusion
to help others and still learn more of myself. Finally secure
in the heart of friendship; the friendship of God and my fellow
Elspeth Herring, Australia
REALITY - The Price of Friendship
"You don't seem to have any friends",
was the shrewd observation of my Dad. I was a precocious 12 year
old, a 'stand-out' with adults, a 'turn-off' with my contemporaries
and desperately unhappy. My Dad was a theatre manager and said
that I could always have a couple of free seats to his movies
if that would be a help.
I am not sure what sort of 'friends' would
have resulted from this ploy, but what happened a few days later
was a disaster. The school bully, ringed by a group clamorous
for blood, was promising to belt me up. So I whispered I would
get him a couple of free tickets.
When Dad discovered why I wanted the tickets,
he was shocked he had produced a coward - and I felt I had lost
his friendship too! He paid for me to have boxing lessons for
six months. I tried to bury my shame by becoming aggressive,
loud-mouthed and by looking for fights to compensate for the one
I had run away from.
It was not until I was in my late teens that
a 'spiritual experiment' led me to the secret of real friendships.
I was truly honest about myself and accepted that I was fully
responsible for my unhappiness, not circumstances and other people.
Strangely, the thing I found hardest to be honest about was buying
my way out of that fight.
The preparedness to be honest about my fears
and failings produced unexpected friends who have stayed with
me through life. Real honesty also seems to bridge the so-called
generation gap. Our sons were always more interested in my current
difficulties (aka disasters) rather than some 'great spiritual
discovery' from yesteryear.
Friendships are born out of taking risks,
whether it is being more honest about yourself than is normal
- or being prepared to reveal how you found a friendship with
the 'King of Kings'.
Jim Coulter, Australia