“A man that has friends must show himself friendly; and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother” –Proverbs 18:24
Who can find a faithful and true friend? What an honor to witness a bond of friendship that has stood the test of time. An inseparable bond of growth, strength, and loyalty. A group of individuals determined to weather the ups and downs of life. A true friend adds value to your life. Someone with whom you could not imagine life without. Those we consider more than just a buddy or a pal; but, a boundless connection that goes beyond space and time. It is eternal.
Just think about your best friend(s) for a moment…what mix of characteristics make them irreplaceable. Now, apply those same character traits to yourself. How would measure up? Are you a true friend? If asked, most of us could list qualities that we consider endearing in a mutual friendship. For example, a friend must be trustworthy, loyal, dependable, supportive, and a good communicator. The highway of friendship runs both ways. Would you agree? Ok, so let’s talk about these attributes…shall we?
Trustworthy finds a way to the top of the list on all occasions. We need to know if we can trust a person with our hearts. The chambers of the heart hold our deepest fears, our deepest secrets, and our true nature. A true friend must have the lock and the key to crack this code. It is the inward truths that only myself and God knows. The place in which my soul is laid bare before you. The real deal. In this place, you may not like what you hear. But, no judging allowed. In order to remain in right standing, no gossiping allowed. At this level, betrayal is not an option.
Loyalty fills the number two slot on the list. This word questions allegiances. Will you stand with me when everyone has turned away? Eventually, testing shall come in this area. Can you pass the defending my reputation test? What you say in my absence shall determine your loyalty status. Real friends will only speak about you behind your back to “stand up” for you. Never attempt to wear the crown of loyalty, if you are chanting the same words as the enemy. When the smoke and mirrors have cleared, whose team will you be standing with?
Of course, loyalty does not mean “exclusive” you can have other acquaintances without fear of competition or jealousy. Friendships do not equal “gang membership” a person has the right to associate with whomever they choose. No robotic imitations or carbon copies needed. Mistakenly, some comrades assume the responsibility of telling each other who to like or dislike. Perceptions are based upon the opinions and/or lies told by others. Mature relationships give all parties involved the ability to interact with others based on their perception, not the opinions of group affiliates.
Dependable friends can rely on each other through good or bad times. They have your back. There is no room for doubt. This person occupies the speed dial position on your cellphone. The dependable friend will receive that call at 3a.m. in the morning. A reliable friendship has withstood testing and trials. If there is a need, the dependable friend will come through with the supply or find someone who will.
Supportive is another word that denotes a best friend. It does not mean a “yes man” or a person in total agreement with everything done. No, an empathetic friend will stand by your side regardless of right or wrong, but will bring the hammer of correction when needed. Understanding and pushover are not synonymous to a supportive stance. Also, kindness is never shown to obtain a favor in return. The kindness tally card gets erased upon execution. A dance of give and take. So, never take a supportive friend for granted. Never give them a reason to withdraw kindness.
Good Communicator may be last, but not least. As we know, good communication skills involve more than talking. It consists of excellent listening skills as well. Conversation should flow easily. Even in the silence, communication still takes place. Good friends understand the implied meaning of the silence. Of course, they have a way of reading between the lines. Facial expressions are instantly read. Becoming emotional is acceptable. Apologizing is never an issue. And, “keeping it real” is expected.
Yes, our best friends drive us crazy. Those little idiosyncrasies that we find cute at one moment, can drive us insane the next. Oh! The joys of friendship. Try this exercise to determine friendship status.
The Friendship Test
Directions: You are required to write a letter to your best friend. Not just any letter. You are going to put some serious thought into this letter. Think of it as a letter of recommendation. Talk about all the reasons you consider this person your best friend. What character traits does this person possess? Include noteworthy ways in which this person has influenced or enhanced your life. Times this person has encouraged you. List special attributes. Good times and laughs you have shared. What makes this person so special? Why do you love this person? How would life be different without them? Express how grateful you are for their friendship.
Once the letter is completed, read it out loud (not necessarily to the person). After reading the letter addressed to your best friend, replace the friend’s name with your name. Read the letter aloud to yourself. How did it feel to say those things about yourself? Now, go act. Be that friend!
Written by Laura B. Alexander