Do you know who your friends are? I mean real friends. The ones who always have your back, your foot bottom and your head top. Who will tell you when youíre wrong even though you donít want to hear it. Those few people, that person, who is there at a momentís notice and sometimes even before that moment happens. Are you that person?
I know that the ultimate friend is Jesus, make no mistake about that. But here, where you can actually see and touch them, do you have any friends? How do you know they are your friends? Friends come in many shapes and sizes, and you even have friends for different things and at different times. Iíve heard about best friends, life-long friends, first friend, work friendÖwhatever. Itís a loosely used word. But Iím very clear on who my friends are. I donít count a lot of people as friends, because real friends are, believe it or not, hard to find.
I have a friend who wasnít my friend for a long time. She never even liked me. Probably hated me at that. Today, sheís a friend and a half. In a way, Iím glad we werenít friends from the beginning, Ďcause now I have a greater appreciation for her. I remember one morning, immediately after I found out I was unexpectedly going to have an extra $6,000 monthly expenditure, she called me. Out of the blue, just to make contact. As I hung up on the Ďbad news callí, the phone rang again and it was her! I was so depressed and frightened by the new need placed on me, that I just started to cry. I was so relieved to hear my friendís voice on the line. Thank God it wasnít somebody with whom I would have had to pretend. Sheís a busy lady, but after hearing through my sputtering what was wrong, she offered to come by. I told her not to bother, but by noon I got a package with a note Ė ďDonít worry, lunch is on me.Ē In the package were some of my favourite foods.
She probably doesnít remember that occasion, but I havenít forgotten. This friend helps me to be who I want to be and should be. She also helped me to understand that an earthly friend is there for you, whether youíre burdened or not, hurting or not. He or she may not be able to take that burden or hurt or undesirable thing from you, or give you the answers you need. All they have to do is genuinely be there, spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, financially Ė whatever you can be most at the time.
I know of another friend who stood by her friend while she went through the first stages of a miscarriage. They didnít know that that was what was happening. But - let me call her Faith. It was late one night while she was visiting her pregnant friend that Faith ended up cleaning the sofa that had been stained by her friendís blood, and drove her to the hospital. Hospitals, in fact, as it turned out UWI was the better place to be at midnight. She paid for the tests and visits because her friend didnít have a cent, and stayed with her until her family came. She had work the next day and an ailing mother at home, but Faith proved to be a friend anyone would be a loser not to have. No hesitation, no question.
I have about three male friends who, over the years, I have come to treasure and they will always have special places in my heart. I know they are my friends, because no matter what, no matter when, no matter how or at what cost to them, they have been there for me, loved me, and cared for me. Even if itís just to talk, I knew I could, and can still count on them. Itís not all about what they can do for me, by no means. Itís far deeper than that. They have given to me of themselves. They have opened up to me their souls as it were and Iíve been gentle with them, just as they have been with me. Although Iíve been around guys most of my life, Iíve found it very hard to cultivate those kinds of friendships with men. Knowing that these guys are here for me makes me feel like a millionaire.
My heart is open to welcome new friends. Iíd like that actually. But friendships arenít always like bouncing on white clouds and enjoying cooling, soothing lemonade on a hot day. Friendships go through rough times. Thatís how theyíre often proven. Thatís what makes them strong and last long. And I know that even if I donít see or talk to any of my friends for weeks or months at a time, they are in my thoughts and I in theirs and I donít have to worry about calling them at any time. And if we see each other after years, our hearts will feel the same way about each other as they did the last time we were together.
This is partly why I donít understand how someone can have 1,000 or even 800 of closest friends to say, invite to his or her wedding. How does one really acquire 1,000 friends? That must be it Ė do you buy them? Barter for them? Swap for them? Another thing I donít understand is how someone can be my friend and not consider me his or her friend. Arenít friendships mutual? And explain to me what a Ďbest friendí is. Iíve never quite gotten that one.
I do have a couple of other friends Iíd like to tell you about, but I donít have the time or the space. Question though - whom do you call your friend(s) and why do you call them that?
Iíve been thinkingÖ I hope Iím as good a friend to you, or better, as you have been to me. Thank you.