For some reason, I've been in a lot of conversations about relationships this week. I remember Andy teaching our youth years ago about relationships. He made the point that there are many levels of relationship: acquaintance, casual friend, close friend, intimate friend. There may be more but that's what I remember. And we probably learned it from someone else.
Relationships are built on trust. You meet someone and as you begin to know one another through exchanging ideas and interests, you decide whether you can trust that person. You might meet this person through another friend (which gives some substance immediately to the relationship if you trust the mutual friend), church, social media, through some function or just striking up a random conversation. You can remain an acquaintance and never take it to the next level. I have lots of acquaintances.
A casual friend is one you see at lots of functions, work, or just on a social media oulet. You may not spend a lot of personal time together, but you may have lots of mutual friends and agree on some issues.
But to become a close friend, you have spent time together and gotten to know each other's thoughts, feelings, hurts and successes. And you care about one another. You may even spend vacation together. You'll probably have fewer close friends...those friendships take time, energy and investment to develop.
An intimate friend is someone who knows all (or most) of your secrets, desires, hurts, disappointments, problems, dreams and faults...and they love you anyway. They are the friend who sticks with you, prays with you, helps you, carries you. They don't just love you--they love your family and care about those whom you love. Their love covers a multitude of your sins--they overlook your faults--and vice versa. These friends are few and far between. They don't run when you're in trouble. Instead, they circle the wagons and call in the troops to help. You may not see these friends for years, but when you do it's as if you just saw each other yesterday and pick right up where you left off. These friendships are priceless.
But you can see through the progression how important trust is. If trust is broken early on in the relationship, our human tendency is to avoid that person in the future. But the more trust has been developed, your friend may mess up (in sharing something you didn't want shared, for example), but you're willing to overlook it because you love them. And the deeper the friendship, the harder it is to destroy that friendship.
Trust is a fragile thing. And it takes risk. But if you don't take that risk, you'll never have meaningful friendships.