I believe in the power of a friend. Friendship can show you that no matter what you do or what you have done in the past, a friend will love you all the same. If you are dealing with a personal problem, a friend can reassure you that you never deal with an issue by yourself. In a world filled with random moments of extreme joy as well as extreme sorrow, a friend may represent the one stable figure in your life. When life has overcome you and the feeling of giving up has defeated your hopes of a good outcome, a friend helps pick you up and free you from whatever burden that may trouble you.
I find it is interesting that dictionaries even attempt to match a definition to a word that varies so extensively from person to person. Dictionary.com defines a friend as “a person who is on good terms with another.” Does this mean that everyone I am not fighting with is my friend? How can I differentiate between the friends I am simply “on good terms” with and the ones who have helped shape me into the person I am today? There are the friends who you know through acquaintances, some who see on a regular basis, some who live miles away, and some who have helped to save your life when hope seemed absent.
In my experience, you must be friends with everyone you know in the sense that you are on good terms with everyone you know. In addition, you must have at one or two friends, your best friend(s), who support you through whatever hardship you encounter. You need that one friend whom you can call when you break down and need a trusting voice to reassure you that everything will be okay. And that they will be there each step of the way until things have been resolved. The point some people seem to miss is that they do not need an abundance of close friends. In fact, with a large amount of friends, you may miss the opportunity of forming a lasting relationship with anyone because you are too focused on staying connected with a large array of people, rather than a select couple.
Discrimination should play no part in the selection of friends. Disparity in age, ethnicity, and religious/political views should not obscure your realization that everyone is a potential friend, despite any differences. Close friends should represent the person you want to become. And, with their help, you can achieve anything because you have their unconditional support guiding you along your journey.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.