Value of a True Friend

Written by BG Howard

June 28, 2023

A few days ago, I waited in the checkout line of a local market when a young lady passed through and recognized two people about her age. The three all noticed each other about the same time and everyone in the immediate area graciously endured the “awkward for a public forum” magnified cackling of barnyard hens. The two left standing had obviously not seen their friend for a while and proceeded to exchange warm hugs prior to spending a brief moment arranging a get together.

It wasn’t until the third young lady had walked away that things really began to unfold and a not so complimentary shadow was cast by the two friends left standing together. They began talking about their “friend” using such derogatory terms it made me wonder whether these were the same people. Those aren’t what I’d consider friends and, if the young lady who’d just left had heard, I think she would’ve reconsidered as well.

A part of me wanted to embark upon a search of the store to locate the young lady and disclose the truth about her “friends.” Rationale set in and I reasoned it better the issue simply be left to play itself out. After all, the worst thing would have been for me to get caught up in the middle of something about which I had no understanding. One of the most basic rules governing peace suggests the best business to handle is your own so I left the market and the situation behind.

By the time I’d driven the seven minutes home my mind had traveled a million miles around the thought of those who call me “friend.” Granted, there aren’t a large number of people with whom I freely associate to that degree. Short of casual contact with relatives, I’ve come to be more of a social recluse in recent years as a growing interest in writing continues to consume increasing amounts of my time, but that’s another story.

It can prove a might disconcerting to think the people who’d readily identify you as “friend” could, perhaps in your absence, have discussions about which they refrain from allowing you knowledge. As my dear departed mother, “Chank,” used to say, “It’s not a good idea to be liked by everybody anyway ’cause a lot of ’em don’t mean you no good.” The truth of the matter is that every person who refers to you as friend, as exampled by the two young ladies at the market, isn’t sincere.

The bonds of true friendship are forged over time and aren’t easily broken no matter the nature of the obstacle. There are many people who willingly wear the label and will go above and beyond to display their loyalty to true “friends.” It’s not necessary for real “friends” to always be in one another’s faces or engage in constant contact. One of the dearest people in my life will only call me or I’ll contact him three or four times in the course of a year. There’s another gentleman with whom I haven’t spoken for more than two years but our relationship doesn’t suffer under the strain of absence.

One of my many hillbilly philosophies establishes; “A friend is somebody who knows everything about you but likes you anyway.” If there’s a person you’ve called “friend” for an extensive period of time the two of you have, in all probability, agreed as well as disagreed on a number of matters. Situations have both come up and come between the two of you for a moment until it could be resolved…but resolution is always sought. There may have been periods that one or the other would become enraged about a specific issue that resulted in a brief disruption of communication but someone has always decided to take the first step for the relationship to be quickly restored.

In short, a true “friend” is someone who is dependable beyond ease or comfort and will go the extra mile to be certain they’re making the very best effort to help, not harm. The “friend” is one who desires to work through any adverse or potentially damaging situation and will seek to reconcile whatever concerns may arise. Proverbs 18:24 (KJV) of scripture specifies: “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”

I’ve often wondered how long it’ll take for the third female from the market to realize the truth. Will something happen to make her see the “friends” for who they really are? Or maybe she already knows but holds on to hope that their acceptance will one day come. Personally, I don’t see value in the sacrifice of one’s self respect. I could be wrong but it’s just something to consider.

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