C. Raymond Beran, (Bits & Pieces, September 19, 1991, p. 3-4) asks, what is a friend? Friends are people with whom you dare to be yourself. Your soul can be naked with them. They ask you to put on nothing, only to be what you are. They do not want you to be better or worse. When you are with them, you feel as a prisoner feels who has been declared innocent. You do not have to be on your guard. You can say what you think, as long as it is genuinely you. Friends understand those contradictions in your nature that lead others to misjudge you. With them you breathe freely. You can avow your little vanities and envies and hates and vicious sparks, your meannesses and absurdities, and in opening them up to friends, they are lost, dissolved on the white ocean of their loyalty. They understand. You do not have to be careful. You can abuse them, neglect them, tolerate them. Best of all, you can keep still with them. It makes no matter. They like you. They are like fire that purges to the bone. They understand. You can weep with them, sing with them, laugh with them, pray with them. Through it all–and underneath–they see, know, and love you. A friend? What is a friend? Just one, I repeat, with whom you dare to be yourself.
The Stages of Friendship
In kindergarten your idea of a good friend was the person who let you have the red crayon when all that was left was the ugly black one.
In first grade your idea of a good friend was the person who went to the bathroom with you and held your hand as you walked through the scary halls.
In second grade your idea of a good friend was the person who helped you stand up to the class bully.
In third grade your idea of a good friend was the person who shared their lunch with you when you forgot yours on the bus.
In fourth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who was willing to switch square dancing partners in gym so you wouldn’t have to be stuck do-si-do-ing with the dork of the class.
In fifth grade your idea of a friend was the person who saved a seat on the back of the bus for you.
In sixth grade your idea of a friend was the person who went up to your new crush, and asked them to dance with you, so that if they said no you wouldn’t have to be embarrassed.
In seventh grade your idea of a friend was the person who let you copy the social studies homework from the night before that you had forgotten about.
In eighth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who helped you pack up your stuffed animals and old baseball cards so that your room would be a “high schooler’s” room, but didn’t laugh at you when you finished and broke out into tears.
In ninth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who went with you
to that “cool” party thrown by a senior so you wouldn’t wind up being the only freshman there.
In tenth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who changed their schedule so you would have someone to sit with at lunch.
In eleventh grade your idea of a good friend was the person who gave you rides in their new car, convinced your parents that you shouldn’t be grounded, consoled you when you broke up with your significant other and found you a date to the prom.
In twelfth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who helped you pick out a college, assured you that you would get into that college, helped you deal with your parents who were having a hard time adjusting to the idea of letting you go.
At graduation your idea of a good friend was the person who was crying on the inside but managed the biggest smile one could give as they congratulated you.
The summer after twelfth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who helped you clean up from that party. Helped you sneak out of the house when you just couldn’t deal with your parents. Assured you that now that your significant other were back together, you could make it through anything. Helped you pack up for college and just silently hugged you as you looked through blurry eyes at 18 years of memories you were leaving behind.
And finally on those last days of childhood, went out of their way to come over and send you off with a hug, a lot of memories and reassurance that you would make it in college as well as you had these past 18 years. But most importantly sent you off to college knowing you were loved.
Now, your idea of a good friend is still the person who gives you the better of the two choices.
Holds your hand when you’re scared.
Helps you fight off those who try to take advantage of you.
Thinks of you at times when you are not there.
Reminds you of what you have forgotten.
Helps you put the past behind you but understands when you need to hold on to it a little longer.
Stays with you so that you have confidence.
Goes out of their way to make time for you.
Helps you clear up your mistakes.
Helps you deal with pressure from others.
Smiles for you when they are sad.
Helps you become a better person.
However most importantly loves you!
At the end:
Henry Durbanville said: “A friend is the first person who comes in when the whole world goes out.”