In her job as ‘guidance counselor to her children’, my mom was always drawing on truisms to steer us toward good outcomes. One of her aphorisms was ‘show me your company and I’ll tell you who you are’. And she wasn’t the only one to caution us. If you look at Proverbs 13:20 it says” He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.” Did no one think we were capable of making good decisions about the company we keep? It seemed the word“friend” was always followed, or preceded by a cautionary tale.
As we get older we see the wisdom in these words, and we look for the types of friendships that Marcus Tullius Cicero talks about when he says “Friendship improves happiness, and abates misery, by doubling our joys, and dividing our grief”. I am so very lucky and blessed to have friends who fly thousands of miles to support me and drive me to appointments an hour away from my home. These friends also sent care packages, talked with me for countless hours by phone and made time to start a Bible study to offer me comfort. [We are still doing this almost two years later, weekly by phone, from three states and two countries.]
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friend.” That’s from John 15:13. My friends exemplify those words.
If we go back over 1,000 years to Old-English to find the root of ‘friend’, we find the word ‘Freon’ meant both ‘to love’ and ‘to set free’. … Old English and Old Germanic were closely linked and today the German word ‘frieden’ means ‘man of peace’. To find peace we need to not feel the urge to thrash against the things that weigh us down, but to be still. We need to love ourselves as we do our children, our pets, or our closest friends. I’ve learned to do this because of the support I’ve had.
So I wrote a letter to my friends who have valued me in my weakness. I share it now, with their permission.
My dearest friends,
I thank God for you. You are truly a blessing to me and I want you to know how much I appreciate and am grateful for you.
Thank you for giving me the most precious gift of your time, because you that time cannot be recovered. Thank you for your understanding, compassion when I needed it most, and for your lack of judgment. Thank you for our girls trips to Miami Beach, and Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Florence and Turks and Caicos Islands, and I’m looking forward to Greece; and thank you for not letting the geographic distance between us ruin our friendship.
Thank you for sharing your families with me and for upholding and praying for mine. Thank you for loving me through my fears, and worries, impatience and tears. Thank you for being my confidantes and for allowing me to be yours. Thank you for being my friends.
Let me close with a quote I read recently. “Having an honest friend – one before whom you can dump all your heart’s pockets and still feel that you are worth something – is a form of wealth that will buy you nothing but will give you everything. And mysteriously and rightly, to find such a friend, we must be such a friend.”
Dear Lord thank you for the true friends that I have. For the blessing of their encouragement and the peace found in their acceptance. I pray for contentment and comfort in their lives, and that they remain forever in your grace. Amen.