Merely an Acquaintance

My Boy and His FriendsDo you remember being little and claiming that every child you met was your “friend”? I think most kids have a tendency to assume that all kids with whom they play fill that category.

It wasn’t much different when I started having my own children. Our kids would automatically label anyone whom they met as a “friend” and ask if we could have a play date.

While I am generally a friendly person and highly encourage my children to be so as well, I have also come to the conclusion that not everyone we meet can be our friend.

Being someone’s friend implies that you are going to invest something in their lives. Being a friend is more than just playing or even talking; it is building something into that person and letting them do the same with you.

Being someone’s friend means that we have a bond, which is usually accompanied with affection (on one level or another). You support one another and champion their cause. A friend doesn’t always tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to hear. They’re someone whom you can depend upon, no matter the situation.

At the root of the word “friend” is actually the word “love”. A friend is someone whom you love.Girls' Friends

I confess, based on these descriptions, I am not a friend to everyone I meet. I don’t know that I could even try! There is not enough of me (or anyone else for that matter) to be a friend to everyone on the planet.

No, to be realistic, I think it safer to assume that while I am friendly with almost everyone, I have more acquaintances than friends.

An acquaintance, as opposed to a friend, is someone about whom I only have slight knowledge. They are someone whom I have met and enjoyed for a brief moment, but unfortunately do not have a close relationship with.

As my children get older, I am helping them to become aware of the difference and to choose their friends wisely.

Not everyone they meet, will or ought to be considered their friend. Our friends are people that we are associated with, people who are like-minded, and will help us become better than we are.

The Bible is very clear about how we should pick friends, “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.” (Proverbs 12:26)

Over the years, I have enjoyed the blessing of a few good friends and the company of many great acquaintances. Each have added something to my life and have taught me valuable lessons.

I pray that as my children grow older, they will learn to discern between the two and yet remain open to those who are not yet friends.

Being on WordPress, I have had the privilege of making a few new friends and learning life lessons from those with whom I have become acquainted. It is my sincere hope that some of you who are merely acquaintances now would, though time, become dear friends.

What do you think is the significant different between a friend and an acquaintance?

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16 thoughts on “Merely an Acquaintance

  1. When I was a child, my mom says, we had just moved in to a new house (growing up as a Navy brat we did that a lot) and I saw some kids out back. I told my mom, “I see some friends outside, I’m going to go meet them.” I never really outgrew that.

    My wife and I have talked about this occasionally; she’s much more apt to differentiate between an acquaintance and a friend and a close friend, whereas for me an acquaintance is just a friend I don’t know that well yet. I don’t really differentiate, at least not in how I behave toward them – I am a good friend regardless of the strength of the current friendship.

    I think that’s what’s more important, anyways; I think it’s foolish at best to determine how you treat others based on how they treat you. And while, yes, the righteous man should be careful of the company he keeps, we ought not neglect those around us just because they’ve got further to travel still. Jesus himself befriended the prostitutes and tax collectors, because they’re the ones who were most in need of his example. Even if you need to be wary that they don’t pull you down, you could do a world of good by helping them up.

    (To be fair, I do recognize levels of friendship in some way – I’m closer to my friend Rose than my sister’s boyfriend – but I haven’t really examined how or why that is.)

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    • I agree… I think we ought to be friendly towards others, no matter how long we have known them. I do believe, however, that we should be careful about how close we become and how much influence we let them have in our lives, especially when it comes to our children’s relationships.

      I also want to caution my children to not just accept everyone as a “friend”, especially as they are young and need to learn to keep a distance from strangers. Not everyone who is nice to you, really IS nice; some would use the innocence of children to bring them harm.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, they definitely got my mind going.

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      • I think you make a really good point: I’ve been blessed with a strong sense of self, but it’s definitely the case that we need to be careful and aware of how much influence our friends have over us, and by us we both mean “our kids.” It’s less of a concern if their friends are good people and exert positive influence, but my experience has been that parents don’t always get the full story or a clear view of kids’ nature – the ones you think are good kids sometimes turn out to be terrible.

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  2. Thank you much for this post. It makes so much sense! I have lamented the loss of “friends” over the past few years, since relocating out state and having been in the same “community” for 20+ years. I love how you put it that you’ve had many acquaintances that you’ve enjoyed and you are so right. Those I had thought were friends are not – and it’s okay. We truly do have few friends – and that’s okay, too!! I sure appreciate how you worded this. Thank you!!

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  3. I’m like Jack (in first post) on this one. I tend to treat all people as if they are friends I just don’t know yet, but I do practice cuation as well. It depends on the situation and place. My boys (3 and 6 yrs) also see everyone as friends they just don’t know yet, and we are slowly learning the difference between friends and acquaintances. But whether they are beknownst to us or not, we always treat someone else with respect and the friendlyness that we would like to be treated.

    Friends are also not necessarily in your life for the long haul – some are there for a season, some for a couple of years. That doesn’t make them less of a friend. We have moved a couple times, but our friends from then are still long distance friends. We just don’t see each other often. We still talk via sms (texting), facebook, emails, telephone, etc. But it has to come from both sides.

    God has always provided close friends where ever we are, no matter how our circumstances changed, but if I closed myself off to new people, because I don’t know them that well… how else are you going to get to know them?

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    • Good points! I think there are friends that are only in your life for a season, but that isn’t what I refer to when I mean an acquaintance. I think of an acquaintance as someone who is literally only in my life for a few days or less than that. Someone whom I know, but only on a “hello” basis.
      Acquaintances are people I would still be friendly towards and care about, just not someone that I would necessarily take advice from or let watch my kids.
      I don’t think that NOT being friends, means we can’t be friendly… we should always be friendly. It just means we have not had the opportunity to get to know who they are at heart and they do not know us.
      It isn’t necessarily about closing ourselves off, but never having the ability to be more.

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      • Totally agree there with you with regards to acquaintances. Would never leave my kids with someone I don’t know and trust absolutely, but I do take advice from strangers I meet in the shop and we stop and discuss the same product. Then again, it isn’t serious advice like health, financial, or schooling issues.

        You actually got me thinking A LOT (while mowing the lawn this afternoon). Not all people who enter our lives are supposed to become good, close friends. Some are there (I like to think because God put them there) for a reason. Either to help and assist you, or for you to be a help to them, and thus have an impact in each other’s lives.

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      • Oh, I agree. We are talking about the more serious advice here. I often ask people’s opinion in stores about less serious items and will offer it myself. But I would only listen to a few regarding how to train my children or handle a disagreement with someone.
        I think this topic got all our brains going!

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  4. Good post. I agree with you. Friends are people I don’t have to ‘impress’ – I can totally be myself around them. Also, we pick up right where we left off no matter how long it’s been since our last conversation. It comes naturally – I generally don’t have to worry if I have offended or over-stepped my boundaries or is it my turn to call or set up the play date, etc. . . There is trust and freedom and forgiveness. Usually this takes years to develop, but occasionally we are fortunate to build friendships more quickly and those people are, to me, gifts from God.

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  5. What a good conversation! And here’s a wrinkle I think is a little alarming: this generation’s changing understanding of friendship due to Facebook “friends.” My FB account is full of friends who are really acquaintances, but I notice that my young friends on Facebook tend to have a different view than I do. A friend is someone who clicks like, someone who approves of your latest profile picture, someone who pokes you… I have many true friends who are different than I am, down and out, homeless, even. So I’m not saying, and I don’t think you are, that we ought not extend love freely. But I do think trust is a whole ‘nother ball o’ wax, and I worry about kids’ virtual friendships in a virtual reality world, where nothing is quite real at all.

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