In talking with a friend today, I was reminded of one of my favorite sayings of Dr. Michael Beckwith: “Friendship is often an agreement in mediocrity.” Michaels’s point is that, in our culture, “friendship” is usually based on a hidden contract that both people will let each other stay the same. That each will let the other be mediocre as a kind of unconditional acceptance.
In a friendship of mediocrity, we are afraid the other person will not like us if we speak up about their growth. We are ego-centric, caring mostly that they like us. Instead, true friendship is when you care more about your friend liking themselves than liking you. This is real love because when our friend truly likes themselves more, because of their spiritual growth, they can like others more. Everyone wins. Real love is caring about the spiritual growth of another, not caring only about our own needs. In real love, if they were to grow so much they moved on from us, we would still be thrilled. In false love, we cling and hold others back from their own growth, from liking themselves, for fear we will not have our own needs met.
True friendship is compassionately challenging our friend to like themselves maybe more than they like us!