One big thing to change
Andy Crouch on how we can construct meaningful and lasting friendships in a world of superficial connections.
Andy Crouch answers the question: “I am connected to a lot of people, but I feel like no one really knows or understands me. How can I find deep friendships?“
- What is your initial reaction to the video?
- To what extent do you resonate with the concern in the question behind the video – that it’s easy to have many connections, but hard to build deep friendships?
- Share an example (if you have one) of when you’ve experienced rupture and repair in a friendship, and whether it resulted in a deeper relationship afterwards.
- Do you find it easy or difficult to forgive? Explain your answer.
- Read Simon Smart’s article ‘Loneliness and the cost of true community’ and Justine Toh’s article ‘We are all in the social media gutter looking at the stars’.
- Complete The Four C’s Thinking Routine for both articles.
- Have you experienced a community like the one Anne Lamott describes (in Simon Smart’s article)? Why do you think this group welcomed her in this way?
- On a post-it note, complete this sentence ‘True friendship means …’. Compare your sentence with those of the rest of the class.
What we’re really looking for and need in the world I don’t think is connection. That’s like an electronic metaphor, it’s not really what we’re built for. We’re built for love, and love is built on trust. So the real question is: How do I develop trust? And I’m borrowing here from a friend of mine Curt Thompson who says trust is built through rupture and repair. This may be a counter-intuitive idea, but actually trust is built when there’s some separation between us, and then we bridge the separation. So you might think you trust people when nothing has gone wrong, but that’s actually not true – until things have gone wrong, and you’ve repaired something that went wrong, you can’t really trust. So real friendship is built – there’s three layers of it. One is absence and presence. So we separate, we go apart from one another for a while, but when we come back together, you realise, “Oh, you came back, you want to be with me again,” and that builds trust. Then there’s failure and recovery. So this is where something goes wrong in the environment around us – it may not be anybody’s fault, but there’s some problem we have to overcome, and if we can solve that problem and recover from that failure together we trust each other more. And then the third layer, using Christian language, would be sin and forgiveness, or you could think of it as betrayal and reconciliation. Because there are times when it’s not just that something goes wrong around us, like something goes wrong with us; we fail each other. And when you acknowledge that you failed and you say, “I’m sorry, that was wrong, will you forgive me?” and the other person says, “I will forgive you,” that’s in some ways the deepest repair. So real friendship comes from real trust which actually comes from repair of rupture. So you’ve got to be willing, at least to have absence and presence, you’ve got to be willing to do things that have a risk of failure that you’ll recover from and learn you can trust each other, and inevitably, if you go far enough in a friendship, you will disappoint each other and fail each other and sin against each other, but on the other side of that is forgiveness, and on the other side of forgiveness is real trust and real friendship.