I love my friends. I am a teenage girl.
But I repeat myself.
Anyone who is or ever has been a teenage girl knows we are pretty friend-centric creatures. We make very few decisions without consulting at least one (usually three or four) close friends, and we trust their judgement on every topic from which boys to date to which pants to wear to school on a Monday morning (the purple slacks that grab attention? Or the denim jeans that make my legs look SO DARN GOOD? It’s an impossible choice to make alone, people!)
What is a good friend, exactly? A good friend protects their friends, recognizes their faults, and tries to help them overcome them. A good friend is patient, but firm. If their friend is getting into trouble, they will do their best to get them out, even if that means tough love. They rejoice with them in the good times and mourn with them in the bad ones. They laugh with their friends, keep life light. They try to tell their friends the truth, even if the truth may hurt, because they want the best for the person they love. Names come to mind as I write this, and you know who you are, and I absolutely love you, friend, for being this kind of person to me.
One of my favorite quotes about friendship comes from the book of Sirach. I remember being about eight years old and learning this quote, set to music, in a little girls bible study class. I got a little bag of mini m&ms for memorizing it. Ah, good times. Anyway-
“Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter; whoever finds one finds a treasure.” (Sirach 6:14)
Sturdy shelter… I love that term, there. Sturdy shelter makes me think of camping with my family, years ago, when a big storm came up. Though the wind howled and the rain and hail poured down, the tent stayed firm and I was warm and dry inside. That really is what friendship should look like- protection, safety, one friend helping the other. We take turns as the shelter, as the storms of life blows on us both. We each keep the other safe and warm until the sun comes out again.
Bad friends are selfish- they take the shelter of the other, and then run away as soon as times are tough. Sirach 6:8 says “For they are friends when it suits them, but they will not be around in time of trouble.” Some friends betray confidence, slander, or just plain aren’t around when they’re needed. Some “friends” (they don’t really deserve the term, IMO) know that their friends struggle with a certain vice or addiction, and do nothing or even try to get the person to fall! This is a blatant betrayal of a friendship. We’ve all felt the pain of a friend’s betrayal, and some of us have even been the betrayers! And there’s a punishment for being a poor friend: “”Do not be a foe instead of a friend. A bad name, disgrace, and dishonor you will inherit.” (Sirach 6:1) Scary stuff.
None of us here have always been perfect friends, but we should try to be better friends. We need to use prudence when choosing friends, get to know them before we share confidence. “Let those who are friendly to you be many, but one in a thousand your confidant. When you gain friends, gain them through testing, and do not be quick to trust them.” (Sirach 6:6-7)
So there are my thoughts for the night. Be a good friend and surround yourself with good friends. We got it?
Love to all!