I had a set of knives gifted to me back in December 2016. For the past 18 months I struggled with these knives in my kitchen, I never had the right sharpness for what I was looking to accomplish in my culinary adventures. Constantly working against me, I would sharpen the knife, always giving the knife another shot that if I sharpened it just right and used what was provided (the honing steel) that maybe it would get the job done. I took great lengths to care for these knives, and hated to get rid of them, but one day I decided time to rid myself of the emotional upset of these knives and bought my very own set of Cutco knives. What never occurred to me was the metaphor of knives and friendship.
Apparently an old wives tale exists that you should never gift knives without repayment, the gift is believed to sever the friendship. I found just how true the superstition to be in real life when I was gifted knives by a “friend.” (notice the quotes, I use the term exhaustively loose in this scenario) When repayment was to be made, as they taped a penny to the package, they took the penny from the package, not allowing me to actually buy the blades from them to avoid severing the relationship. Knives truly do cut, even on a metaphoric and superstitious level.
With our many moves over the last year, much time and thought has gone into reflecting on the many aspects of life. These quiet times and moments have allowed me to bestow wisdom on my children that I hope they carry into their adult years. Reflection about the quality of who they spend their time with, what they spend their time on (electronics, no electronics, people, other material items, etc), knowing their own personal value, and the ever deep reflection of our knowledge and relationship with God. Living two thousand miles from any friends and family, one really has the opportunity to take stock in higher thoughts about life as a whole. With that, I was able to evaluate who I truly considered friends in my life.
Social media has obscured the way we view and define a friend, this obtuse view and new norm has been added to our dictionary. Maybe I am obtuse and obscured to think that a friend was the next best thing to family. Someone who you knew and trusted with secrets even your family did not know; a friend was your loyal and trusted ally where you equally shared in this journey we call life. Nowadays, seems this is way too much to ask of people. Much like my knives to remain sharp and functional.
Again, I could be overthinking and a bit purblind about this subject, but I saw knives, no matter who makes them, to be a sharp instrument. As a valuable item in the kitchen they should be maintained properly, stored properly, handled with care, and never truly become dull. However, if they were to become dull, proper care to sharpen said knives would be had in order to return them to their sharpness. Nothing too extravagant, nothing too much to ask for; a bit of tender loving care is how I view owning a good set of knives. You see, knives are much like friendship. The expectation is that the relationship is of value, to remain sharp and in the event of dulling, some care goes into restoring to the former sharpness. Friendship is like any other relationship and requires love, trust, a connection, loyalty, and a bit of work to ensure a level of equality. Apparently though, in today’s world, that is not the case.
Like in the case of my knives. I know, back to the knives again. I never would have considered my knives that I was gifted, such a deep reflection on friendship, a friendship that was severed and one I am blessed was severed. Mulling over the event of the severed relationship I recalled the book of Proverbs talking about the true value of friendship and who we do life with. “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Prov. 13:20). I took companionship with too many fools, I watched and experienced as this friend, and others after, would never seek true depths in our association where we would stand side-by-side with one another, absorbed in a common bond.
So I shared with my children the lesson of friendship and knives. Explaining that if they found themselves constantly sharpening the knife, that the knife was always dull, that no matter how much time, love and effort they went into caring for their knives, at some point they needed to evaluate whether those knives were serving them well. My kids, like The Chad and I, are very loyal people. What I had to explain to them is that they no longer had to be loyal to someone who was no longer deserving of their loyalty. They could continue to love that person right where they were, but they no longer had to invest in them with their time, their emotion, or with their actions.
The beautiful process of setting that person, and the feelings associated with them, free from their lives was truly empowering. With that small talk I have watched my children flourish. I watched as my kids began to step away from relationships that no longer served them, they began to take on a less invested attitude with those who they once considered friends; by less invested, I mean that they no longer had an emotional tie to this person where they would formerly feel an upset or wrong doing by that person’s negative actions toward my children. I too began to have a freeing of my mind and soul, no longer weighed down by relationships that taxed me to my very soul. We all began to truly see our own value as a person and the friendship to be offered to someone who would invest in them the very same way.
We confuse friendship with the relationship we carry with our spouse. Thinking that there should be a deep level of trust, which there should, but the trust of a friend is far different. Friends stand with us by our side whereas our spouse is face-to-face with us, in addition to side-by-side. Friends are like our knives, they either serve us or they cut us. We can either hold them by the handle or hold them by the blade. True friends will be like a honing steel, you will sharpen each other when there is friction. Sometimes our blades may cut us, but never intentionally and consistently, however if our blade is always dull and works only to butter our bread, consider this to be just an “on the surface” friend and knife, one we no longer need in our lives.