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What’s a friend?

What’s a friend?

Dear reader.

There are lots of kinds of friendship, there are different types of circles of friends, and different levels of closeness among the friends we have. We have school friends, friends who go to the same club, friends we train with, and so on. Some friends are very close, others are good friends but not so close, and there are others who we have fun with now and again, such as during training, but who we don’t see otherwise. It’s also quite normal that friendships come and go, especially in the transition periods from child to teenager to adult, but other friendships can last a lifetime.

Teenagers want their friends to be kind, to be able to rely on them, to support them, to keep secrets, to share interests, to be someone they can be themselves with, and to be good to talk to. Good friends are people we can trust. A best friend is someone who knows our strengths and weaknesses, and who cares no matter what. We need someone we can feel safe with. A friend is a person who meets us with tolerance and kindness. We know what kindness means. Tolerance means that they don’t leave when our weaker sides are more visible than we thought they were.

We can’t be everyone’s best friend, and it takes time to become best friends. However, some people become best friends very quickly.

How can we find out if a friend is really a friend? Jesus talks about this in what we call ‘the golden rule’: ‘So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you ...’ (Matthew 7:12a).

Maybe you miss having a friend? Friends don’t just appear, and one way to find out if someone is a friend is to be a friend yourself. It might be a help to think like this about someone you want to be a friend: ‘Am I sharing my good sides and encouraging this person?’ A friend has no need of trying to be better than another person, at the other person’s expense. A friend talks positively about you and others. A friend is not envious of you, but wants the best for you, and makes you feel valued and respected. A friend speaks up in a respectful way if something is wrong, makes you feel secure, and lets you relax and be yourself. Friends respect your choices. They set you free and don’t control you.

Not everyone has a real best friend like we’ve described here, but most people have friends who are kind. Friends aren’t perfect and can also let us down and hurt us. We can’t put greater demands on friends than we put on ourselves. Friends need to ask forgiveness and forgive each other when they’ve hurt or disappointed each other.

If I’m a good friend, then I’ll find out how others are doing. Be a good friend for someone else, then you’ll get a friend for life!

Best wishes,

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