With Whom Should I Surround Myself?

I’ve seen the following message posted on the Facebook status of a number of my friends: “Surround yourself with people who make you happy. People who make you laugh, who help you when you’re in need. People who would never take advantage of you. People who genuinely care. They are the ones worth keeping in your life. Everyone else is just passing through.”

At one level, I understand the sentiment being expressed. Our dearest friends can make us happy and make us laugh, help us when we are in need, genuinely care for us and would never take advantage of us. I cherish the companionship of those friends on my life journey and the love that we share. And I enjoy spending time with them. My dearest friends, who I love, are not only “worth keeping,” but I couldn’t imagine not loving them and “keeping” them.

At the same time, the words make me a bit uncomfortable, particularly when I think of the man who surrounded himself with sinners and tax collectors, and who sought, by his love, to transform them.

The danger of the words (and I’m not suggesting this was the intent of any of my FB friends who posted them) is that they might encourage us to put too much focus on ourselves, making us forget that there are times when are called to surround ourselves with those who don’t make us happy, who don’t make us laugh. Those who can’t be counted on to help us when we need it and who would take advantage of us in a heartbeat.

Because they surely need our love just as much (or more) than those who are good to us. And we need to be generous with that love, not treating them as “just passing through.”