The Heart of Friendship

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Just because you’re close to somebody doesn’t mean you’re actually close to somebody.
The original Siamese twins were a memorable case in point.
Chang and Eng (who later took the surname Bunker) were born in 1811 in Siam, or modern-day Thailand.  They were conjoined twins who were united at the sternum by a five-inch strip of cartilage. 
Chang and Eng did everything together.  And by that we mean, well, everything. 
They walked together.  They ran together.  They swam together.  When they dated, they double dated.  They married sisters from North Carolina (who were not twins), and together they fathered 21 children.  They lived to the age of 63 and died on the same day within a span of three hours.
The problem is that they couldn’t stand each other. 
Chang (that would be the twin on our left) was an intellectual.  He was a thinker and a reader.  Eng was widely regarded as a repulsive, foul-mouthed drunk.  Sometimes they went days without talking to each other.  Even worse, their wives had a falling out later in life and insisted on living apart.  Chang and Eng would spend three days with one of their wives and then the next three days in a separate house with her sister.
Proximity does not equate to harmony.  We can work just a few feet away from a co-worker but feel no sense of partnership.  We can share the same house and eat the same breakfast with another person but feel no pangs of affection.
Friendship requires something more.  What is it?
The essence of friendship is a shared heart, a mutual vision, a consistent rooting for each other, and a gladness to sacrifice for the growth of the relationship. 
As we’ve noted before, friendships generally fall into two categories. 
First, there are Friends of the Road.  A friend of the road is someone with whom we travel for a certain stretch of life.  This might mean a college roommate, an elementary school playmate, that kid you met at camp, or the neighbor down the street when you lived in that town.  Friends of the road often lose track of each other over time.
Then there are Friends of the Heart.  A friend of the heart is someone who stays current in your life even if you went to different high schools.  Even if you move far apart.  Even if you once took turns stealing each other’s boyfriends.  For friends of the heart, staying in touch is a given.  It may not happen all that often, but you grasp that when you get together your friend will somehow already know the headlines of your life.
So here’s the big question.  Which is better to have – a friend of the road or a friend of the heart?  The answer given by most counselors may come as a surprise.
It’s a tie.  Both kinds of friendships are treasures.  God works through both to bring richness and health to our lives.  And we can never have enough of either.
The best news is that even friendships that have waned can be often be renewed. 
Get back in touch.  Send a note.  Make a call.  If necessary, make an apology.
For Chang and Eng, togetherness was a have-to.  But we can experience friendship as one of God’s greatest get-to’s.