It has been said that "true friendship is like sound health; the value of it is seldom known until it is lost." I have heard that if you have five really good friends throughout your lifetime, you have done well. Personally, I believe that number to be low; however, it is true that friends are a jewel to be treasured.
The Bible says: "He that has friends must show himself friendly." I've attempted, throughout the years, to repeat this to my kiddos often. A person must remember that friendliness is a magnet, and if you want to have a host of friends, then being friendly is the key that unlocks the friendship door. Some ideas might be as simple as smiling at someone, or being concerned when someone is hurting ... whether you know them or not. Compassion and friendship go hand in hand.
We've all heard the ole' saying "fair weather friend," meaning someone who is a friend only when times are good. Now, none of us want to be that type of friend, do we? But, if you want to find out who your true friends are, then let hard times come and see who is left when the storm has passed. After the thunder has rolled, the lightning has struck and the wind has blown over your life, look around at who is standing beside you to help pick up the debris. There, my friend, will be your true friends.
I have been blessed with many trials throughout my life ... yes, blessed, you read that correctly. Trials do for us what nothing else will do, they purify our lives. And, throughout each and every trial, I have had friends who helped me move forward when I didn't think I had the strength to stand. My appreciation for them has grown as the years roll by. There is absolutely nothing like having true friends.
I smiled recently at the truth of this quote: "A friend is one who believes in you when you have ceased to believe in yourself."
Then, there were times when the storms have passed and some of whom I thought would be there til my death were gone. We've all had the experience of being "used" on occasion or over an extended period of time. However, we must choose rather to focus on the glass half full in the friendship department, and agree with Emily Dickenson: "My friends are my estate." A man or woman who has many friends is truly rich.
There is also truth in the statement: "show me your friends, and I will show you, you in three years." My children's former youth pastor, Mark Scott, preached this time and again over the 12 years he had at least one of my children in his youth group. It has resonated within conversations within our home time and again. My daughter, Kristin, states this has helped her in making wise friendships throughout the years, and also kept her from some that might have led her down an entirely different path. Jesus was friends of outcasts, sinners and the downtrodden, and we must never let one's station in life determine whether we associate with them. Being an good influence on someone who is struggling is a wonderful thing; however, our closest friends and those we rub shoulders with on a daily basis represent who we will become over time. Therefore, it is imperative we choose our friends wisely.
Also, never underestimate the power of an act of kindness and the value of friendship. This story illustrates the truth beautifully. The author is unknown, but the message ultra-powerful.
"One day when I was a freshman in high school, I saw the new kid in my class walking home from school. His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books. I thought to myself, 'Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd.' I had quite a weekend planned with parties and a football game with my friends. So I shrugged my shoulders and walked on.
"Just then, a bunch of kids ran toward him, knocking the books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about 10 feet from him. As he looked up, I saw a terrible sadness in his eyes. My heart went out to him. I jogged over to him, picked up the glasses and handed them to him.
"'Those guys are jerks. They really should get lives,'" I commented.
"He looked at me and said, 'Hey, thanks!' There was a big smile on his face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude.
"I helped him pick up his books and asked him where he lived. As it turned out, he lived near me. As we walked home, I discovered he was a pretty cool kid. I asked him if he would like to play football with me and my friends on Saturday. He said, 'Yes.' We hung out together all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him. My friends liked him, too.
"On Monday morning, I saw Kyle carrying his huge stack of books again. I stopped him and said, 'Dang, boy you are gonna really build some serious muscle carrying this pile of books everyday!' He laughed and handed me half the books.
"Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. By our senior year, Kyle had filled out and looked great. He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school. All the girls loved him, and he always had lots of dates. He had studied hard and was valedictorian of our class.
"On graduation day, he was to give a speech. I could see that he was nervous. So I smacked him on the back and said, 'Hey, big guy, you'll be great!' He looked at me with one of those really grateful looks and smiled, 'Thanks.'
"He started his speech, 'Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years: your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach, but mostly your friends. I am here to tell you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give.'
"Then he began to tell the story of the first day we met. I stared at him in disbelief when he told how he had planned to kill himself that weekend. He had cleaned out his locker so his mom wouldn't have to do it later. I heard a gasp go through the crowd as this handsome and popular boy told about his weakest moment.
"He looked hard at me, gave me a little smile, and said, 'Thankfully, my friend saved me from doing the unspeakable.'
"His mom and dad looked at me with a grateful nod. Not until that moment did I realize that in one small gesture I changed a person's life. Now I never underestimate the power of my actions."
(Kimberly Short-Wolfe, MA, is a homeschool mom and a counselor at Cornerstone Christian Counseling.Contact:304-940-9362Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)