(This is also posted at PoF)
In every class I’ve had where the teacher covers ‘The Big Bang’ theory one student inevitably raises their hand and asks the followup question, “But what happened before the Big Bang?” or some variation thereof. Every teacher has their own way of handling it, some answering, “I don’t know,” some venturing into theology and others saying “there was simply nothing.” With the student’s minds sufficiently blown the teacher then moves on to other topics.
The classic human question is “Why are we here?” Our church has a pretty good answer to that; to gain a body and to “prove [our]selves herewith…”(exactly what that means may be up for debate). Some people ask the followup question, “Where were we before?” Very few, however ask this question, “Why did God do it at all?” I’ve found an answer to that question, “A continuing association in this life, as well as in the next, with those we love, should be the great desire of every person. It is the ulitmate. It is the great purpose of mortality. (Elder Elray L. Christiansen, Three Important Questions, Ensign, May 1974, 25)” We exist to build relationships, to learn to love people, and live so we can be with the ones we love.
The reason why we are here is to love people, and the reason why we need to love people is so we can enjoy their company in the eternities. Just to further solidify the point I’ll quote some scriptures. Among the very first things God said about the condition of man is that “It is not good that the man should be alone.” Ecclesiates tells us that the strength of two together is better than one. In Matthew 18 Jesus states that “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Showing that having a friend or two with you gives more benefits than pleasant company. Now lets address the other questions of, who, what, when and how?
Who? Everyone knows that we are supposed to have love in our hearts for all mankind. In the condensed version of the commandments we are told to love our neighbors as ourselves, and are further instructed that our ‘neighbor’ is just about anyone we see. However considering the plight of Job, his friends were often not a comfort to him. Proverbs counsels that we “make no friendship with an angry man.” And gives as a warning “Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.” Which gives the idea that we will pick up the habits of our friends, and should choose as friends those that will lift us up.
What? What does a friend do? Some of Job’s good friends came to mourn with him. And Proverbs (again) says that “A friend loveth at all times.” A good friend will be honest with you, and will treat you with respect.
When? As an aspiring scientist I really like the idea of having something named after me. Like Fermat’s Theorem, Snell’s Law etc etc. For now I have what I call Starfoxy’s Paradox(TM). The paradox is that God will sometimes give commandments to us that we are not able to keep. (No matter what Nephi says!) Therefore there are many people saying something like this: “I want a friend. I’ve been commanded to have a friend. I’m trying to have friends. Through circumstances beyond my control, I am not able to have friends at this time.” The circumstances could be language barriers, lack of suitible canidates, or situations that require large amounts of time alone. (Starfoxy’s Paradox(TM) also applies to marriage: I want to be married, I’ve been commanded to get married, I’m trying, but I’m not able to be married right now.)
Which leads us to the really big questions, how? How on earth does one go about finding, and being the high quality friend and companion that we want and need? I’ll be perfectly honest, I don’t feel qualified to tell anyone how to make or be a friend. I’ve had many bad experiences with friends, and the people that I get along with best are often not my peers. (I get along well with people who are on average 10-15 years older than me.) I’ve noticed recently that I rely too heavily on the social structure provided by the church to make my friends. I’ve also noticed that I am inept at interacting with people when I am not forced to by an external force (a job, a class, etc). So now I’m pushing this question on to you, how do you make friends?