A good friend of mine used to say “Bobby, you don’t need but one hand to count your true friends on”. I used to think my friend was pretty cynical and told him so. But he would reply, “I’m not cynical, I’m realistic”. The older I get the more I see the wisdom in his words. I’d modify it to say, maybe two hands, but certainly no more. We have lots of associates, comrades, people we hang with, neighbors, co-workers, people we know and so on but true friends are precious and few.
When I look back on my life I see that a lot of people I called “friend” were in one of the categories above but less than what a true friend means. True friends are precious few and far beyond what an associate or a comrade means. The true friends I have known over my lifetime knew me for who I was and I didn’t have to pretend to be someone I wasn’t. They accepted me as I am, not how they might want me to be. They knew me and loved me anyway. You don’t have to watch your language around a true friend, they’ll overlook your shortcomings, even if you use a bit of salty references here and there and even when you are politically incorrect.
I find that even more important to me is that a true friend is loyal. I realized a long time ago that I valued loyalty very high on my lifelong values. I both give loyalty to my friends and I expect it from them. Loyalty doesn’t mean telling each other what we want to hear or that we always agree but that no matter what we will stand with each other. Someone recently did a wrong thing, a bad thing, a really bad thing but he has a friend that has stood by him in spite of it. That’s the kind of friend I want, someone who will stand by me even when I’m wrong or bad or out of order. And by golly, you can expect it from me as well. At least you have every right to expect it from me.
When I think of the true friends in my own life I realize how blessed I have been. At every stage of my life friends have been there for me and with me when I needed them the most. At every stage of my life I have had a select few people who loved me and accepted me for who I am and who didn’t try to change me or remake me into what they thought I should be. I haven’t always known how dear and special my true friends were at the time. It’s funny how sometimes we have to lose someone before we realize how much they meant to us. I can think of several people who I knew were “friends” but didn’t fully realize how true they were until they were gone.
Think of who your true friends, be glad you have them in your life. Thank God for your true friends, let them know how much they mean to you and do your best to be a true friend yourself. I hope you will pause today and give God thanks for your true friends.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”
-Proverbs 17:17 NIV