Who am I as a friend? To analyze this aspect of myself I think I have to look at all my relationships because when you are a friend, it crosses all boundaries.
Friends are important. A friend can be anyone! I have a lot of people I associate with, but I think I categorize friendships into levels, there are acquaintances, friends, and close friends. Close friends are the BEST! They are the ones you know you can always turn to that will listen without judgement and tell you in a loving way when you are messing up. If you’ve read any of my previous blogs in the “Who am I?” series, you know a little about my history and will understand when I say I have had a lot of acquaintances in my life. Sometimes you have friends for a season but you find that as you grow, you necessarily leave some friendships behind. Some memories you will hold on to and others you wish you could forget.
Most people seek friendship and for some it comes easy, for others, it is difficult and scary. At some point, people mentally categorize us and we fall into certain “cliques” and it is so hard to break free from them. Even if we find the clique we wind up in is bad for us, others will try to keep us stuck there; it is on us to be strong and break free. Sometimes we cannot do this alone, sometimes we need help. Anyway, the point is that as a young person, due to my life circumstance I ran with all different kinds of groups, it really depended upon which one accepted the “new girl” in each town. There were times I found myself hanging out with the “stoners” or “burn outs”, there was some negative influence there, as a teen I tried pot, I drank some and I smoked cigarettes but I managed to avoid getting addicted to any of them. As an adult I wound up falling in with friends who partied and I started smoking pot a lot and we had a lot of parties. But, later I found something better than the party and made many adjustments in my life, made new friends who helped me learn a better way of living and my life improved and continues to improve every day! So as you can see, the friends you choose can influence you in good and bad ways, the key is to find friends who are good for you.
Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits.1 Corinthians 15:33
Now that I have established how my friends have influenced me over the years, I’d like to discuss the evolution of my friendships and how I have decided to be more selective. When I started making changes in my life as an older person, I realized there were many friends who were not good for me to hang on to. I had to take decisive action to remove their influence from my life in order to allow me to grow and change. It was not easy, in fact for a while I thought “I can change and still occasionally hang out with them.” I have found that was wishful thinking. We no longer had common interests. So those friendships dissipated over time and I began forming new friendships. I do not regret it.
As I have drawn closer to God, I have learned about how to make friends and be a friend. Who better to listen to than our creator? I have found every single thing he tells me about friendship is true.
- There are companions ready to crush one another, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. – Proverbs 18:24
- The wounds inflicted by a friend are faithful, But an enemy’s kisses are plentiful. – Proverbs 27:6
- As iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens his friend. – Proverbs 27:17
I have found that having good friends who seek the best for me and care enough to lovingly correct my path and give me counsel when I need it are valuable. They are a treasure that I need to protect and maintain. Among my closest friendships is my husband. He is my “ride or die”, the one person I can turn to with anything. Sometimes I misinterpret his reactions, but that’s on me. We are growing in all directions and heading the same way. We walk the same path spiritually, we both want to see each other succeed, we enjoy acting goofy together, we sing karaoke – just the two of us in our living room, he humors me by playing video games with me, we are connected at the hip when we are not at work. He is my best friend. I am thankful that I found him. We have weathered many storms together, I am sure there will be many more but I have confidence we can make it “until death do us part”, or into the new system, whichever comes first.
My friends from the congregation are also a blessing to me. They are true friends and they really look out for my spiritual interests and I know that if I needed anything materially, emotionally or spiritually, they would be among the first at my door offering assistance before I even had to ask. When I first started attending the Kingdom Hall and associating with them, I could not believe that they were “real”, I thought as with other so called Christians they were putting on a façade, that if I hung around long enough I would see them behave as other people once their guard is down. That process started in 2010, and as I write this in 2021, they have not changed; they are proving to be TRUE Christians and TRUE friends!
Jehovah is teaching me what it means to be a friend, and the congregation is there providing living examples of friendship. For example, when my husband was in the hospital having his gall bladder removed, which is generally what you could call a minor surgery, I think over half of our congregation showed up at the hospital at various times over the course of the few days he was there. They offered encouragement, humor, prayer and practical things like bringing a meal for me. When our little Ladybug was sick, they offered listening ears, cried with me, prayed for us and after Ladybug passed, some sent cards and one dear sister gave me a very special custom gift that I will cherish forever. When we had our 10 year anniversary party, several sisters jumped in and assisted with coordination, food, locating the dj and one who did not even know me, offered to help rent their community clubhouse for the event! It was amazing and the party was so successful, I think everyone had a great time and we all made memories together that will last a lifetime.
So, bottom line, friends are THERE for you in good and bad times, they laugh with you, they cry with you, they are never fake, they set you straight when you need it, offer GOOD advice, look out for your interest, give practical help depending upon the situation, and really, is there anything better than a TRUE friend? Friendships may come and go, but true friendships last, they stand the test of time. I hope that as a friend I display these loving qualities and when people I consider to be my friend think of me, they think of me in these ways!
In conclusion. To have friends you need to be a friend. You should think of their interests as much as your own, you should be a good listener and confidant. You should laugh together, cry together and play together. Spend time with each other as much as possible and be there when needed to offer practical assistance and wisdom. When choosing friends, don’t look at irrelevant traits such as their appearance, ethnicity or age, friends come in many shapes, colors and sizes. Even if they appear to have nothing in common with you, you may be pleasantly surprised if you give them a chance. I have been blessed with a wide variety of friends and would not have it any other way, my life is so full and I’ve experienced so much joy by not boxing myself into one particular sector of friends. I encourage you to widen out, see what it is like to have a variety of friends. You will be happy you did; like spice, each one will bring a new flavor profile to your life. After all, isn’t variety the spice of life?