Friends, and the People We Know

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I was not only shocked beyond measure but practically mesmerized some weeks back, when a ‘friend’ took a supposed joke personal and went as far as telling me I don’t know her, we were with only classmates. Now this is someone I would have told you I know well enough, even reeling out some of their attributes to you, should you stop me on the street and ask. We’ve been classmates for so long, joked and bantered, discussed serious issues, taken pictures and worked together. Yet she claimed I knew her not. Well, it turns out I didn’t. Recently, she did something I couldn’t have possibly predicted, again. The question is, when we say we know people, what do we really mean?
We could be in the same cell group with someone for years, same class, area or even workplace. Does that qualify them as people we know. We often fall in the danger of a single story. And so spouses turn strangers overnight, we bail people and they bail, we stand as guarantor for people and they disappear, we recommend people and they mess up big time. Only then do we realize we never really knew them all along. 
Sometimes we’re too quick to confer the title of friendship on people we hardly even know. And then they turn out to be totally different individuals. Perhaps that’s why we sometimes get stabbed in the back. What does it take to become someone’s friend? A chit chat? A shared meal? An exchange of phone numbers? A long bus ride? Just what? 
Perhaps it would be better if we qualified our knowledge of people- ‘we were classmates in college and no more… She’s been my neighbour for years and we exchange an occasional ‘hi there’, I see him each morning while waiting for the tram, he’s my brother’s acquaintance, we are colleagues at work…’ But please let’s be wary of the blanket description, ‘I know him’, ‘She’ s my friend’. Maybe we know in part, but then why claim full knowledge? The scriptures are right to have said,’The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9 citation supplied. When we lay claims to knowing people, when we really don’t, we might be setting ourselves up for an experience so not so cool.

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