Friends Deep Secrets Way
“In an experimental design, social psychologists at the University of Virginia found that perception of task difficulty was deeply shaped by the proximity of a friend. (Schnall et al) The researchers asked college students to stand at the base of a hill while carrying a weighted backpack and estimate the steepness of the hill. Some participants stood next to close friends whom they had known a long time, some stood next to friends they had not known for long, some stood next to strangers, and the others stood alone during the exercise. The participants who stood with close friends gave significantly lower estimates of the steepness of the hill than those who stood alone, next to strangers, or to or to newly formed friends. The longer the close friends had known each other, the less steep the hill appeared to the participants involved in the study. In other words, the world was perceived as less difficult when standing next to a close friend than when standing next to someone who was less close or no one at all.” Niobe Way, Deep Secrets, Boys' Friendships and the Crisis of Connection
S Schnall, K Harber, J Stefanucci, D Proffit, “Social Support and the Perception of Geographical Slant”, J Experimental Social Psychology 44 (2008): 1246-1255.
I thank a spiritual friend, Tom Momberg, for telling me about this story and Niobe Way’s book, Deep Secrets, Boys’ Friendships and the Crisis of Connection. Friends make all the difference in how we live life on life’s terms. Spiritual friends make all the difference in how we care for our soul and care for each other’s soul. Both types of friends are good listeners, and can be supporters and encourages. Spiritual friends specifically help us see where God is working in our life. They help us see where God was and is with us all along. We are never alone. Sometimes they hold on to the God of our understanding when we cannot connect to God. Sometimes we have to believe in the God of their understanding when we can no longer hear or see the God we once knew. Spiritual friends can be icons for God’s love. We see God’s love more clearly in them. We see the face, the love of Christ in them, and they in turn help us see the Christ within ourselves. Spiritual friends are like Elizabeth when she is visited by the early pregnant Mary, and the Holy Spirit in Elizabeth sees the Christ within Mary. When Mary hears that her relative sees God within her, she in turn responds with the Magnificat, “My soul proclaims the greatest of the Lord.” (Luke 1:39-56). A chain reaction starts. We begin to see Christ, the God of our understanding, in others, and they reflect that love back to us, and it can go on and on.
What is it like to know and feel God within us? There is a peace. We live in the present moment. Our life becomes a gratitude list. For people in 12 step recovery, the Promises come true (Big Book pp. 83-84). We are empowered to be the person God created us to be.
I welcome what others have experienced when spiritual friends help you see God working in your life.