Friends and true friends

A young wounded soldier returning from the battlefield asked his army chief, “Sir, my friend isn’t back. Can I go and get him?” The chief, denying permission, said, “Your friend must be dead by now in this horrible war.” After much pleading, the soldier went back to the battlefield but returned badly wounded, carrying the corpse of his friend. “I told you,” said the chief, “Your friend would be dead.” “And look how you have wounded yourself trying to save him.”

The soldier replied, “Sir, when I reached out to get him, he was alive. When he was dying, he said something that touched my heart. He said, ‘My dear friend, I knew you would come to get me’.”

True friends are like stars. You see them in the darkest nights.

When everyone walks out of your life, they stay back. Saint Ailred of Rivaulx (1109-66), wrote, “No medicine is more valuable, none more efficacious, none better suited to the cure of all our temporal ills than a friend to whom we may turn for consolation in times of trouble, and with whom we may share our happiness in time of joy.”

We may have many ‘friends’ but the ones that make an impact and difference in our lives are those we like to call “a faithful friend”, “true friend”, or even “soul-mate”. The faces of such friends emerge in our lives through time and testing.

The Scriptures say, “When you gain a friend, gain him through testing and do not trust him hastily. For there is a friend at his own convenience but will not stand by you in your day of trouble. There is a friend who changes into an enemy and will disclose a quarrel to your disgrace. There is a friend who is a table companion but will not stand by you in your day of trouble... But no scales can measure the excellence of a faithful friend,” (Sirach 6:7-15).

A stroll down memory lane will reveal that we have not stamped all the friends we made as “best friends”. Best friends aren’t made. They happen. A young guy walking his pet dog along with his long-time friend wished to hear an affirmation of friendship said, “My dog is my best friend. But it takes one more best friend to make life meaningful. What do you say?” The friend replied, “Then why not get yourself another dog.”

What can be more fulfilling and joyful than someone calling you their best friend?
A best friend is one who multiplies your joys and halves your sorrows, who understands what you are not saying, who comes in when the whole world walks out of your life, whose unflinching support out beats the tide of popular opinion against you, whom loves you even when you make mistakes, who ignores your frailties and applauds your strengths, who knows your fears and fortifies your faith, who feels your hopelessness and emphasises your possibilities.

The best way to be a friend is to be one.

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