An old Irish proverb says friendship is like a four-leaf clover — hard to find yet lucky to have. St. Thomas Aquinas says true friendship is considered to be a prize. The Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church even considers friendship (with God) necessary for eternal salvation.
But what really goes into being a true friend? A true friend is there, even in the most difficult moments. But how, in challenging times, can we be a true friend, especially if we see our friend on the wrong path? How can we walk in authentic charity while speaking the truth to help friend to redirect her course?
Recently, I was complaining about regular ol’ vocational struggles with a friend. I knew I was being rotten, and apparently, so did my faithful friend, who was getting an earful of my toxic talk. As this friend empathetically listened, she also crafted and delivered some pointed questions. She never imposed her opinion on me nor did she make harsh accusations. She simply asked me questions.
The last question of the conversation peacefully stopped me in my tracks. I had to admit I wasn’t ready to reveal what those words had unearthed in me. Each question slicing closer to the core of my sour apple. I was rejecting a part of my vocation and was not choosing to serve another over myself. I never answered her on that final question, nor did she expect me to. It was time to turn to the Lord with humility and repentance and request his mercy and grace.
If love means “to will the good of another person,” friends should challenge one another in their vocations and daily lifestyle choices. These four simple questions can help start productive dialogue with a friend.
- Does this action glorify God or serve yourself?
- Are you seeking the good of another over yourself?
- Does this choice support your vocation, or distract you from it?
- Are you putting yourself into a near occasion of sin, or even mortal sin?
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