I have to admit that I am more comfortable writing about Fit 4 Life’s other three topics – fitness, finances and faith – than I am writing about the topic of friendship!
It’s not that I am a bad friend… on the contrary I believe that I am a good friend to my close friends! It’s more that – for me – friendship is a very personal thing, and so writing about friendship forces me to ‘bare my soul’ in a way which the other three topics don’t.
Anyway, since it’s my turn to blog this week on the topic of Friendship, I thought I would share five of my favourite quotes related to Friendship and give a little commentary about why I like each one.
1. “The only way to have a friend is to be one”. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I think many times we expect our friends to do certain things for us like calling us to say, ‘Hi’, or really listening to us when we are speaking; yet we (or maybe me!) often don’t do it to them! So this quote always reminds me that I need to continually be working on myself to be a better friend to my friends.
2. “A friend to all is a friend to none”. – Aristotle
An ancient piece of advice states, ‘A man of many friends comes to ruin’ (Proverbs 18:24). While Aristotle’s quote has similar implications in that you can’t be friends with everybody (Mark Zuckerberg aside!) the quote also speaks to me that true friends will pick sides and choose to rally around me. In other words, they will choose to support me when push comes to shove and even become enemies of my enemies if it is called for. Politicians and businesses might have to make strategic alliances to get along, but it doesn’t always work with friendships. A friend to all is a friend to none. I remember this and seek to be loyal to my friends at all times.
3. “Love is blind; friendship closes its eyes”. – Friedrich Nietzsche
Following point two above, nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes and everybody has their ‘stuff’. A good friend is not someone who is blind to, or duped by, the flaws which their friends may possess in their character and personality. However, genuine friendships overlook the shortcomings and ‘warts’ which they see in their friends. Nietzsche’s quote is a constant reminder to me to overlook the foibles and failings I see in my friends at times, because I care about them and value their friendship – and I expect the same from them too.
4. “True friends stab you in the front”. – Oscar Wilde
This might seem contradictory to my point about needing to overlook the foibles I see in my friends and which my friends see in me; but sometimes we have such large blind spots in our behavior that, unless they are addressed and dealt with appropriately, these blinds spots can seriously set us back in our life and in our relationships with other people.
I have a close circle of friends who aren’t afraid to point out areas in my life which they feel I need to work on – and I have the same right to speak into their lives as well. Hopefully your friends won’t be giving you a list of things that you need to be working on every week(!), but once or twice every few years my friends tell me that I am off base on some point, or that I am getting too worked up about something, or that I have misunderstood somebody and need to give them more grace, or that I failed to do something and so someone got hurt by my omission and I need to go and make restitution. Real friends are not afraid to come at you ‘from the front’ with a proverbial scalpel to help cut out from your life and character some of your bad ‘stuff’.
Oscar Wilde’s quote reminds me that true friends will address my serious character failures head-on, and they won’t whisper in the darkness with others about my failings and never come in a spirit of love to show me where I need to change. This is a great test of true friendship.
5. “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means 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”. – Henri Nouwen
I remember one time when I happened to be on the spot in a particularly intense meeting and the object of much accusation, a person (who wasn’t even my friend!) touched my shoulder to let me know that they cared for me. That one simple act of kindness meant more to me in that meeting than any words of advice fired at me during the two hours which the meeting lasted. Being a natural advice giver, I find it very easy to start telling my friends what to do when they share a problem with me, or when they find themselves in a difficult situation. Henri Nowen’s quote is a good reminder to me that, as a friend, sometimes the greatest thing that I can do for my friends when they are in need and hurting is not to be giving them advice, but rather just to shut-up and show them love and empathy! A hug often communicates more than the most eloquent sermon…
Bryce – Fit 4 Life Staff