Once upon a time there was someone that I called my ‘best friend’, but I do not know if the feeling was mutual. Maybe in word, but judging from my experience, not heart. My wakeup call came when I found out from someone else, what was her alleged life situation at the time. It was something big. Something life-changing and yet, as close as we were, I did not hear it from her. I had to ask her about it, because that’s how I am with friends. Of course when confronted she admitted it was so, but from that day my view of our friendship was altered, permanently.
After that experience, I have been very careful who I give the title of ‘friend’ to. As a matter of fact, I have not endowed the title ‘best friend’ to anyone since then. From that time until now, I have formulated some critera that I use as markers to give me an idea of who I am dealing with, give or take a few.
- Is that person willing to share their life experiences, within reason, with me as I do with them?
- Are they willing to gently tell me the truth even if it hurts?
- If they ask me a question, and I respond, do they accept my answer, or do they try to change my mind in a way that seems pushy?
- Are they always argumentative no matter the subject being raised or discussed?
- Do I always feel like I need to justify everything I do or say?
- Are they always secretly competing with me?
- Do they give the appearance that life with them is perfect, while punching holes in mines and everyone else’s?
- Are they supportive of my dreams and aspirations or do they find cause to be critical?
- Do I feel comfortable being myself in their presence or do I always feel pressured to be someone else?
- Do they covertly try to make me feel inferior to them?
- Do they cover me in public while confronting my wrong in private, or do they expose my shame for the world to see.
As the Bible said, and I think it goes without saying that we should always endeavour to do unto others as we would like them to do unto us. (Matthew 7:12)
So, here I am today at 51 and I choose my affiliations very carefully. As a matter of fact, if after the ‘getting to know you phase’ I find that any two or three of the above markers are evident, I will go into self-preservation mode. Life is too short to always be trying to justify yourself and your thoughts to others. It is certainly too short to always be struggling to make a friendship work.
Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” I try to maintain that peace as much as possible and that means choosing my friends wisely. As a matter of fact, I let the God who knows every person’s heart, choose my friends for me.
And let us always bear this in mind as well, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)
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