A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. ― Proverbs 17:17
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor; If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. ― Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Don’t walk in front of me . . . I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me . . . I may not lead. Walk beside me . . . just be my friend. ― Albert Camus
Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . . ― C.S. Lewis
This may seem like a repeat of the “Hang Around Good People” chapter, but it’s not. This is a whole different ball of wax.
Not only do we need to hang around good people, but we need to be on the lookout for forming a good friendship with someone. Without a good friend, navigating our way through all the madness of life on earth becomes so much more difficult.
A good friend can be a hard thing to find.
That has a lot to do with how hard it is to find someone where both of you meet the criteria for become good friends. Let me explain…
A good friend tends to look at life the way you do. Aristotle said, “What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.”
A good friend doesn’t think exactly the same way you do (that would be boring), but they fundamentally “get” how you view reality and think in similar ways.
A good friend often understands you better than you do. They are objective enough about you to see where your blind spots are—things they see about you that you don’t see about yourself. Vincent Van Gogh wisely observed, “Sometimes they know us better than we know ourselves. With gentle honesty, they are there to guide and support us, to share our laughter and our tears. Their presence reminds us that we are never really alone.”
A good friend is willing to say things to you that are painful but that you need to hear. Proverbs 27:6 says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies his kisses.” Francis Ward Weller said, “A friend can tell you things you don’t want to tell yourself.”
A good friend moves toward you when others are moving away from you. When others abandon you, a good friend re-doubles their commitment to be with you through thick and thin. Shannon Alder said “A best friend is the only one that walks into your life when the world has walked out.”
A good friend accepts you, warts and all. They aren’t just there for the good side of you, they’re there for the messy side as well. Bernard Meltzer said, “A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.” Elbert Hubbard said, “A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.”
A good friend allows the friendship to develop and deepen over time. They accept that long-lasting friendships have to age like fine wine. As Aristotle put it, “Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit.”
A good friend stays in once they’re in. Not only do good friends allow the friendship to develop over time, but, once it becomes a close bond, they remain committed to it. Socrates said, “Be slow to fall into friendship, but when you are in, continue firm and constant.”
William Penn noted, “A true friend unbosoms freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeably.”
A good friend is someone who will forgive you for wounding them. All relationships involve being wounded, but a good friend won’t hold it against you. Jean de La Bruyere noted, “Two persons cannot long be friends if they cannot forgive each other’s little failings.”
J. D. Redmerski put it this way, “Best friends, no matter what they do or how much they hurt you, it only hurts as much as it does because they are your best friend. And none of us are perfect. Mistakes were made for best friends to forgive; it’s what makes being a best friend official.”
A good friend will have boundaries with you. They don’t passively sit there while you’re being a jerk and say nothing. They will get in your grill, tell you to knock it off, and hold your feet to the fire until you do.
A good friend gives you their time and attention. A person can’t be a good friend if they aren’t engaged very often or not giving you their full, undivided attention when your around. John Marsden observed, “The only true test of friendship is the time your friend spends on you.”
A good friend is transparent. They don’t cover up their flaws and defects, and they provide a safe enough environment for you to expose yours. You can take your mask off with a true friend and don’t feel the need to cover up.
Frank Crane said, “A friend is someone with whom you dare to be yourself.”
A good friend believes in you. They believe in your potential to grow into a more fully loving and mature human being, and they won’t settle for you doing anything less. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.”
A good friend will strongly disagree with you. Timothy Keller said, “Friends become wiser together through a healthy clash of viewpoints.”
Proverbs 27:17 puts it this way, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Good friends never nod in disingenuous agreement.
A good friend isn’t there for themselves but for you. They are involved with you because of what they have to offer, not what they want to take. Charlotte Bronte said, “If we would build on a sure foundation in friendship, we must love our friends for their sakes rather than for our own.”
In light of all this, is it any wonder that a truly good friend is a rare thing to find? Nevertheless, we have to stay in the game and keep looking for a good friendship to form between us and others.
Kristin Hannah put it this way, “To make real friends you have to put yourself out there. Sometimes people will let you down, but you can’t let that stop you. If you get hurt, you just pick yourself up, dust off your feelings, and try again.”
Munchkins, I leave you with one final quote.
Henri Nouwen beautifully observed, “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
Stay in the game. Keep looking for a good friend while trying to offer good friendship to others. Your life will be so much richer for it.