1. a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
2. a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter
3. a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile
Those rather generic definitions don’t quite define what a friend is. They don’t describe the way a friend can say just the right thing to put a smile on your face when you are crying. They don’t describe the way friends can lose their breath and have tears rolling down their face, their stomachs aching, while laughing over something small and trivial. They don’t describe the way it feels when you are with a friend and can say so much without actually saying anything at all. Or what about the way that a hug from a friend can warm your heart like nothing else.
Friendship is something that sounds easy to come by, but think about how many people you encounter in a day. Now think about how many of those people are your friends. Think about how many people in your life have been there for more than one year, more than two years, more than five years. Society today dictates that we don’t hang on to things that are old. We throw them away and replace them with newer, faster, shinier models that can better suit or ever-changing needs. Unfortunately that also sometimes means that friendships get left by the wayside.
When I was in high school I had some amazing friendships that i was positive would last for the rest of my life. Now, twenty years later, I don’t associate with any of them aside from on Facebook. I don’t know those people anymore. As a matter of fact, besides my husband, there is only one person in my life that has been there for more than five years, and he is the one who made me want to sit down and write this post. His name is Brian.
I have known Brian for six and a half years. He and I have been through a lot together. We met when he came to work for the radio station in Paducah that I was also working for. It took a few weeks, but our friendship really started when we had that “You like Drum Corp? I like Drum Corp, too!” moment on a Saturday afternoon. Since then we have changed jobs. First he moved to the Murray radio station, and then a year later I followed. We have been through relationship ups and downs with our significant others. We have shared secrets, hopes, fears, laughter, support, kind words, and very angry words. We have been through ups and downs in our own friendship, including a period where we did not speak for about five months. But no matter what happens our friendship always comes out stronger on the other side.
My friend is going through a tough time right now in his personal life. A long-term relationship has come to an end, and it is not pretty. A few years ago when my friend was going through this same thing with a different girl my natural instinct was to jump in a protect him from the big-bad hurt that was attacking him. It was my job as his friend. It was my way of laying claim to him. I needed everyone else to know that he was MY friend, and I would take care of him. All I really ended up doing was smothering him, something that took me a long time to see and understand. I learned from that experience, and even though I want to jump in and protect him again, that is not my job. My job is to be there for him when he needs me, not to force my way in and tell him that he needs me. My job is to give him my ears when he needs to talk, to offer a shoulder if he needs to cry, and to have a hug at the ready if that is what he needs. He knows, without a doubt, that I will be there for him. He knows that no matter the time, place, or time of day, I will do anything I can for him.
I used to think that I had to always tell him that. I used to think I he always needed reminding. I didn’t trust our friendship. But time and experience have taught me to trust our friendship. After all, a true friendship can span time and distance without a word and pick up right where it left off. True friendship is not in the empty words that are spoken, but the trust and faith that the friendship is built on.
Yes, I want to make everything all better for my friend, but the best thing I can do is step back and support him as he navigates his way through. If he needs me I will be here, and he knows that. Because that is friendship . . . love and support that does not need to be boasted of, but instead speaks of itself. I love my friend. I will always consider him a brother, and I thank God for bringing Brian into my life. It would be a dimmer place without him in it. I have learned so much from him on how to be a better person and a better friend. There is a spot in my heart that belongs just to him, and always will.
Until next time . . .