My dad warned me that my true friends would be counted on one hand. I wondered what he meant because I had friends by the boat load. A few years later, after having lived off at college, I began to understand what he meant.
I was home visiting and had brought along someone I cared about. One of my closer friends had been rude to him and to me. “I don’t understand how she could do that. I thought you said she was your friend.”
“She is my friend.”
“You would never know it by the way she was acting.”
“I thought she was my friend.”
He was quiet for a long time and then asked me an odd question. “Would you die for her?” Apparently he equated sacrifice with TRUE friendship.
“Of course I would.” I knew that I would do anything I could to help her.
“Okay, fair enough. One more question. Would she die for you?”
It was my turn to be quiet. That one question brought into clarity what my dad had been trying to get across to me that day so many years back. I can be friendly with many people. I can enjoy the company of a large number of people. The number of people that will sacrifice for me would be very limited.
That reality has continued to crystalize over the years. I still have people that I refer to as friends, but I understand that the ones that would “take a bullet” for me are few and far between.
Defining True Friendship
- - a true friend will not ask you to change. They may not like you at times, but they accept you where you are as you are.
- a true friend does not try to balance the scales. It is not about getting it is about loving and sharing without stipulation.
- a true friend does give his life for his brother, sometimes literally but most often figuratively. They may have to choose to give up their preference for yours or they may have to step into something much deeper to give you a chance.
I have to confess that I am not a true friend as much as I should be. There was a time when I invested my resources into being a good friend. I wonder if my lack of investment today has something to do with the hurts, betrayals and lack of return I saw from that investment.
Most likely it is that I have become more focused on me and less on others.
True friendship is never a waste. Even though I suffered pain from the fair weather friend relationships in the past, it was not in vain. The ones that were left standing, the few that I can count on my hand, continue to encourage, support and lift me up today – even in the midst of my selfish focus.
I need to do better. I want to do more. My dad was not warning me that I would only have a few friends, he was encouraging me to understand that even just a handful of true friends would make all the difference in the world.
Today I begin to invest more in the relationships I have developed so that I can nurture those relationships into true friendships. It starts by being a better friend.
Do you have a secret for being a better friend? I would love for you to share. Maybe together we can grow true friendships that will help carry us through.
This is the kind of friend I am working to become.