From birth through death, what humans most need is connection with other humans. Among all lifeforms, we are the most dependent upon others, not only for survival, but also for acceptance, affirmation, companionship, and love. Others’ generational habits, weaknesses, mistakes, and sins can leave bruises on our souls. These bruises complicate our perception of reality by diminishing our self-worth. When some of the soul’s most scarring wounds prove to be self-inflicted, is it even possible for us to truly connect with another in friendship?

When I meet a potential friend, I may be drawn by empathy, motivated to act by compassion, and choose to extend my heart. My desire may be to act in mercy, but if their response reminds me past soul bruises, healthy connection may skew quickly to unhealthy imbalance.

Researchers have found that only 40% of physical well-being is determined by genetics. The other 60% is determined by epigenetics — my relationships, environment, and inner life choices. Daily decisions to strengthen my body are important. However, my moment by moment choices to nurture my soul, strengthen my relationships, and choose environments where I can thrive are absolutely crucial. Caring for others may turn out to be a matter of survival – not only for them but also for me.

Healthy, authentic friendships are:
not mere coincidence, but deliberate choice;
not guilty reaction to need, but freely given commitment;
not competing for numbers, but a costly investment;
not a luxury, but a priceless treasure.

I don’t know how many heartbeats I have left in this life. The benefits of adventuring together with friends who celebrate the real me far surpass the risks of leaving the predictable safety of a life lived solo.
-Karen Bridges