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The Importance of Friends

The gift that keeps on giving.

Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Most of us have friends, or at least one friend—someone we spend time with, someone who knows us better than others do, someone we can count on when the need arises. It’s been said that a friend is a gift that we give ourselves. Yet, how much time do we really spend thinking about those people who matter more to us than all the other people we meet and interact with throughout our life, sometimes including family?

There’s no doubt that a friend adds to the fullness of life. Authenticity, honesty, and trust are qualities we expect to find in a friend. There’s an understanding that the binding together of people in friendship helps each of us define and realize a meaningful life.

“The language of friendship is not words but meanings.”

“When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends.”

A good friend shows up no matter what. A true friend supports and encourages us, tolerates our shortcomings, accepts us unconditionally, and cares for us no matter what.

A real friend walks in, even when they’d rather be somewhere else, when everyone else is walking out. With a true friend the walls come down and you can be who you are without fear. A good friend knows you well—sometimes better than you do yourself—and is not afraid to tell you things you don’t want to tell yourself. A friend is present for you no matter what time of the night or day it is.

“A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.”

“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.”

Friendship is a partnership: Two people come together on equal terms. They give their all. Friendship demands more than love. Friendship expects and endures the good, the bad, and the ugly. A best friend is someone who brings out the best in you.

“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”

“The best mirror is an old friend.”

“Life is partly what we make it and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.”

True friends walk through life together. A real friend bears witness to whatever happens to you. With old friends there is a comforting familiarity. You can let down your guard and just be who you truly are without fear, shame, or guilt. A faithful friend is a treasure found.

“Life without a friend is death without a witness.”

“We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.”

A true friend shares our joys and sorrows. The inevitable twists and turns of our lives down the long and winding road that represents our journey are made sweeter and more meaningful by the sharing and caring of a good friend. Rites of passage—marriage, births, deaths, or other important milestones—are marked and honored together.

“Friendship multiplies the good of life and divides the evil.”

“Friendship doubles our joy and divides our grief.”

“In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and the sharing of pleasures.”

“Friendship makes prosperity more shining and lessens adversity by dividing and sharing it.”

Friends can be family. Sometimes our friends are the family we wished we had. Sometimes we have difficulty with our own family. We may feel misunderstood, judged, ridiculed, or even ignored. In that case, our friends often fill in for what is not provided by our own family. In the best-case scenario, however, family members can also be good friends.

“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.”

“One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives.”

“A good friend is my greatest relation.”

Friends are often soulmates. Recognizing each other on a soul level helps us spiritually. John O’Donohue calls this the anam cara experience, translated from Gaelic and meaning "soul friend": “The anam cara was a person to whom you could reveal the hidden intimacies of your life. This friendship was an act of recognition and belonging. When you had an anam cara, your friendship cut across all convention and category. You were joined in an ancient and eternal way with the friend of your soul.”

"What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.”

“Friendship is always an act of recognition.”

“Your friends will know you better in the first minute you meet than your acquaintances will know you in a thousand years.”

The sum is greater than the parts. In friendship our actions and reactions cause us to go beyond just being you and me. We are ultimately transformed into something far greater by the mere act of signing on to be in each other’s lives. We open new doors for each other; stepping over the threshold into new worlds, we broaden each other’s horizon.

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same.”

“Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow-ripening fruit.”

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances; if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”

You raise me up. A friend rekindles our light when it has gone out, ignites our excitement, and inspires us to do better and more. A real friend may even inspire you in a way you never imagined you could be. They may wake you up to all of the possibilities that live within you and help you to realize your full potential.

“Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.”

“There comes that mysterious meeting in life when someone acknowledges who we are and what we can be, igniting the circuits of our highest potential.”

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it to you when you have forgotten the words.”

Our dear friends are the gift that keeps on giving.

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