The Character Movement

Shot of two people wearing boots on a trail in the forest

The definition of friendship

By Patty Beadle, Youth Frontiers’ Director of External Relations

We’ve talked a lot about “seeing the other more completely” at Youth Frontiers for the past year, but the crux of this idea is not new to us. Like all of our annual themes at YF, “seeing the other” is just another way to approach our mission to build positive communities. There is one type of community I’d like to focus on right now: friendship.

A friend is one who knows our struggles, who knows our victories and who comes alongside us as we experience either, as we would for them. True friendship allows us to divide our pain and double our joy. I’m fortunate to have a person in my life who extended this kind of friendship to me when I needed it the most.

I was standing in my kitchen on the morning my siblings and I would bury my father. I was devastated. I remember hugging my older brother and in tears whispering to him that I just wanted to go with our father. I wasn’t suicidal; I just felt so hopeless in that moment. My dad – the one who helped shape who I am as a human and the one to whom I turned for his calm, methodical and faith-filled approach to life – was no longer reachable.

Suddenly, my doorbell rang. It was an old college friend of mine with muffins in her hands. After laying them on the counter for us, she turned to me, gave me a hug and whispered in my ear, “May the grief you feel turn to trust. I love you. I will be here.”

A friend, to me, is someone you can depend on to be there for you when times are tough or when times are happy. That may sound simplistic; true friendship is harder to achieve than it sounds, and it is rare. To have good friends, it is important to first be a good friend, which requires you to invest your time, your intention and your vulnerable self – the real you, not just the one you show an acquaintance – in the relationship. The last is where we often falter.

“There is no better compliment in our lives than to be loved by those who know us the best.”

 

Sometimes, we shy away from true friends because we wonder if they will still love us if they really know who we are deep inside. We want them to know our best qualities, our happiest moments. But when we show them only a part of our lives, we miss the opportunity to learn more about the depths of life and about who we each are. In my experience, in order to “see the other” in our friendships, we must allow ourselves to be seen.

Ten years before I buried my dad, my friend lost her father. Whenever she would talk to me about her loss or other difficulties in her life, I felt our relationship grow. Her vulnerability brought us closer together. On the day of my dad’s funeral, as my friend spoke her words of comfort to me in my kitchen, I knew that she knew my pain. Moreover, I knew that she knew me. Because of our deep, transparent relationship, this friend was uniquely able to soothe my raw grief.

I will cherish that friendship for all the days of my life.

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