We need to draw a distinction between a friend and a companion. Let us say that a friend is someone who enjoys my company and whose company I enjoy. I have a good time when he’s around. I find myself laughing more, relaxing more. I like his sense of humor and his quirky mannerisms. It is a pleasure to be with him.
But let’s say a companion is all this and more. Let’s say a companion is someone who deeply desires for me to be my best. A companion is someone who calls forth from me my best self and does so without being bossy, parental, or preachy.
I can name many friends in my life who are fun to be around. I play pool or go to the movies with them. I see them at work or in the neighbourhood grocery store. We share a laugh when we’re together. Sometimes we have ongoing jokes that last for years. I’m grateful to God for them. But those I name “companion” are on a whole other level. My companions play a pivotal role in my life. We accompany one another on life’s most important spiritual journeys. When I’m with my companions, I see more clearly who I am, and I actually like who I am. To borrow a phrase from the movie As Good as It Gets, companions make me want to be a better man.
Besides mentors, I need good companions who are no more advanced in the spiritual life than I, who aren’t experts in the field of anything I’m discerning, but who sincerely care for me and are willing to look out for me. Unlike the friend with whom I share a laugh or a good movie, I look forward to sharing the deeper parts of myself with my companions, and I look forward to hearing what’s going on in the depths of their lives as well.
– Excerpt from “God’s Voice Within: The Ignatian Way to Discover God’s Will” by Mark e. Thibodeaux.