Once upon a time, I took a lot of stock in the notion that what mattered most was “who you are when no one’s looking.”

Ok, there’s some value in such a self-assessment. We do need to have a level of integrity in what we do on our own and what we profess in public. We mustn’t be hypocrites.


At some point I decided that what is most important is who we are when we are part of the communities in which we find ourselves; or, perhaps more telling–who we are when we are among the people with whom we have chosen to surround ourselves.

Who are your people, and what does your life look like when you are together with them? What do you do together? Who are you for one another?

From a Christian perspective, one might say that who you are as a functioning member of the body of Christ is more important than how much you look like an ear when you’re hanging out alone in the ear storage facility.

This week we have friends in town. Good friends. Life friends. Friends who love my children even when they’re going ape-poop. Friends who can say, “No, I’m sorry, that’s a really bad idea.”

With good friends, we come together and rediscover not only who they are, but also who we are. We remember that the guy who spends all day long in his study or his cube, the woman who spends all day long moving in and out of examining rooms and filling out charts and dictating patient visits–these people aren’t the full embodiment of who we are.

What really matters is more than this–although these alone dynamics play their part. What really matters is who we are when everyone’s looking, when everyone’s gathered, when everyone’s loving.

8 thoughts on “Friendship”

  1. This makes me happy. I wholeheartedly agree. This is being the body- the body that Jesus model of our “family” being beyond biological and marital connections!

  2. Well said. I think both are important — who I am and who I am in relationship. And they may be spoken of distinctly, but they are inseparable. Just as we may speak of God’s aseity in demonstrating that God is the sovereign God without us — but we must always tie it in to God’s economic being in action for us.

  3. Well put, Daniel. Who we are is really about our whole life. Yes, our flaws are more likely to show when we are alone or (as C.S.Lewis notes) when we are caught off guard emotionally. However, we ARE persons-in-relationship. Most of our culture is so rehearsed in declaring us as free individuals that we forget that.

  4. I love it! I hadn’t thought about it that way, but I do sometimes wonder about the dual-self. This puts some perspective on it.

  5. I agree in general, though I am suspicious of your statement in your fourth sentence/paragraph. One of the wondrous and difficult teachings of Jesus was about the inclusion of outsiders. While seeing how someone acts with their friends says a lot about them, so does seeing how they deal with strangers/men/women/people with diseases and handicaps/waitresses/people who are obnoxious/people who say foolish, poorly reasoned or vulgar things on the internet/next door neighbors/teachers/students/bosses/ignorant people/over-educated people/young children/teenagers/ alcoholics/teetotalers/Muslims/Buddhists/fundamentalists/etc.

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