When I was a teenager, I remember my mother saying that one thing she could know for sure and feel confident of was that her children chose good friends. She meant that we chose to associate with people who made good choices, kept their noses clean, had good ol’ fashioned home training. Of course, we knew this already, but it was still nice to hear it from my mother who did not dole out positive compliments easily. After all, there was always something in one’s life that could be improved.
“Bad associations spoil useful habits.” ~1Corinthians 15:33
I still have wonderful, wonderful friends. I meet new friends easily. I am a natural in this way. Even my acquaintances are wonderful people already on the way to becoming good friends. Those I know better and longer, and those I have come to love, also love me, are loyal, supportive, encouraging, and trustworthy. The closest of them see me clearly, know me deeply, are ‘ride or die’ friends who have been in my life for lifetimes, meaning, we did not just meet this time around. I count these ones as part of the abundance of good things the universe has bestowed upon me, and I deserve it.
I am a good friend, too. My Cancer moon makes me a very nurturing type so I must balance my mothering tendency with my ability to keep separate boundaries, but my friends know that they are very loved by me and that I have BIG love. My love is a lion — fierce, protective. I embrace everyone and do my best to see the good in all — even those who “hurt” me. My loyalty, trustworthiness, deep love and compassion are some of the best things about me. Kesho Scott, one of those longtime childhood friends, and co-author of a book with me and Cherry Muhanji (Tight Spaces), once wrote of me there, “I’ve seen her take her lickings hard and still look for compassion in all of God’s creation.” I feel proud about that because ultimately, somehow someway love wins out, peace wins out, hope and optimism win. I count this, too, as a treasure, a boon I have been granted, a blessing which has been bestowed.
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” — Henri J.M. Nouwen (Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life)
I have just such friends. Besides the love of family, I would not do well without the gift of such beloveds in my life. They enhance it, bring light, life and laughter to me. They augment the joy I feel and suffer the pain with me. They make life a little easier and a whole lot better. They help me remember who I am on my gloomiest days when I feel lost, alone and afraid, and have borne with commitment, courage and strength my darkest nights, when I had fallen in to an abyss of despair.
There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you–just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.”
— Shel Silverstein
Friends are the mirror reflection of you. Becoming a good friend requires a commitment to boundless love, the ability to see from another’s vantage point, a willingness to let go of judgements and the count of indignities and slights borne. It is learning to love your own self at the deepest level of your being, to the best of your ability, so that you can look upon goodness everywhere you go. To have a good friend, you must become one. There is no other recipe for happiness.
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