by Vicki Nunn
“Fake friends are like shadows always near you at your brightest moments, but nowhere to be seen at your darkest hour. True friends are like stars, you don’t always see them but they are always there.”
When I grew up, I left home wearing rose-coloured glasses, naively believing that people wanted to make the world a better place, and therefore that everyone worked hard at friendships and relationships.
Boy! Was I in for a shock when I found out the truth about the world! While I hate to say it, I think my parents did me a great disservice by not preparing me properly.
It took me several years and much heart-ache before I finally figured out:
- not every friend is trustworthy;
- not every friend is worthy of our deeper friendship or love;
- friends will sometimes let us down;
- good friends don’t criticise unless it’s really warranted or if we’ve done something wrong or if we need to correct a behaviour;
- true friends will stick by us no matter what;
- good friends will make the effort to work at our relationship; and
- I sometimes don’t act as a good friend should.
That last one was particularly hard to accept, because I always thought I was a good person and a good friend, but there was at least one incident when I acted poorly in response to bad behaviour from someone that I had trusted as a friend.
While I could make excuses for it because I was angry and hurt, and emotionally immature, that particular experience has stayed with me as a reminder of my own shameful and unacceptable behaviour. It was a catalyst for me to never want to behave like that again, and to ensure that I developed healthy habits in my friendships with others.
Why Is Important That We Have Good Friends?
I’ve had some wonderful as well as some terrible friends over the years. When I was young and lacked belief in myself, I had some not so great friends. They talked about me behind my back, or criticised me and made me feel bad about myself.
It took me some years to figure out that I had the right to good, healthy friendships and that it is right that we turn our backs on those people who are not good for us to be around.
There was a foolish, naive part of me that wanted every single friendship in my life to work, and so I wasted lots of time, energy and emotions on people who proved not to be good-friend material.
How much better it would have been had I put all of that time, energy and emotion into my worthwhile friends.
Ultimately, good friends will make us feel good about ourselves, and of course, we must be good friends in return.
What are the Traits of a Worthwhile Friend?
Some of the traits of a good friend are as follows:
- is loyal and trustworthy;
- Is truthful, respectful and kind;
- Enjoys our company and likes to make us feel good;
- Does not judge us, but is willing to tell the truth about something difficult, especially when we need to hear it;
- Is willing to support us no matter the circumstances;
- Is loving and considerate;
- Makes us smile and laugh;
- Keeps in contact;
- Makes physical contact, such as hugs; and
- Listens to us.
That last one is vital to a friendship. Truly listening involves more than just hearing the words, but trying to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes.
I have a tendency to want to ‘fix’ people or their problems, and it takes a lot of self-control for me to just shut-up and listen to my friends as they talk about their issues. It’s not that I don’t want to listen – it’s just that I want them to feel better and to help them to work past their problem. I have to remind myself that my friend often just needs someone to listen and if they want my advice, they will ask for it.
What are the Traits of a Poor Friend?
I‘m sure we could put together an extensive list of what makes a poor friend, based on our individual experiences. Basically though, a poor friend is one that does not show us with compassion, proper consideration or respect.
If we find ourselves feeling un-comfortable or bad about ourselves whenever we spend time with a particular person, we need to seriously consider how that person is treating us. It may be that we need to watch their behaviours and the words they use, to determine if they are acting kindly towards us.
At one time, I was friends with a woman who became more and more critical the longer we were friends, even though she covered it up with smiles, jokes and laughter.
One day, I recognised a feeling of dread come over me when she dropped by my home, and later I felt relieved when she finally left. Over the next few days, I prayed about her and came to the conclusion that her abusive upbringing had led to her showing poor behaviours in her relationships with others.
There was a terribly sad and lonely little girl inside her who didn’t think she was worthy of friendship and love, and so she sabotaged every relationship that came into her life.
As I had known her for some years, I didn’t want to abandon her without explanation, and so I stirred up my courage and went to see her. I explained that it was because I valued her and wanted to keep our friendship, that I felt that I had to talk to her. I added that I deserved to be treated with more respect and couldn’t continue our friendship if she was persistently critical of me.
She agreed with what I said, and in fact, she explained that other people in her past had said the same thing to her before. She accepted that she was critical, but outright refused to even consider changing her fault-finding ways.
It was evident that our friendship did not mean as much to her as it did to me, and although it was painful, I chose to let her go.
Relationships and friendships can be tough, but when we find good, decent and trustworthy friends, they certainly can make life worthwhile. If we are finding struggles in our relationships with other people, we can find many sources of information and help on the internet nowadays, or we should consider talking with a Counsellor or our Pastor.
We need to get into good happiness habits when it comes to our friends including being aware of how we are being treated and how we feel around others. We should accept that not everyone is worthy of our love and in those circumstances, we should choose to let them go.
Finally, we should always remember that our Heavenly Father values us highly, and therefore we are worthy of genuine friends and love. [end]
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