Be a friend…

April 19, 2016

“A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down.”  (Arnold Glasow) – as seen originally on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

soldiers on patrolThere’s a saying in the military, “I’ve got your 6.” In civilian life (and terms) it translates to, “I’ve got your back.” Basically it is saying that you are protecting the backside or blind side of that person. Usually this is for a friend, which in the military and in combat zones is everybody in your squad or unit.

In the business world there are courses on team building that use a technique for developing trust in the teamwork process by having one person stand with arms crossed in front and fall backwards into the arms of afalling back partner. The idea is to help people trust in co-dependent relationships with teammates in the business world. We inherently have the same kind of trust in those in life that we call our friends.

In real life, one doesn’t ask someone to “friend me”.  You might ask someone to be your friend, but that is usually after some period of knowing them and building trust in them. Real friends are those that you know you can count on, confide in and who will be there to catch you, should you start to fall. Real friends are there to listen to your problems and perhaps offer advice (if asked); but not to criticize or scold. Real friends don’t get in your way; in fact, they encourage you to try things or to become something more than you are now. They cheer your girls huggingaccomplishments and commiserate with you in your defeats. They share laughs with you and give you a shoulder to cry upon. They share your moments of pain and your times of joy.

One never knows where one will meet someone who becomes a friend. It could be at work, at church, in the neighborhood, anywhere. Some friendships are short lived. I remember friendships that were formed and lived only during summer vacations, sometimes over multiple vacation visits to the same places. Many of my lasting friendships started at work and were developed in more social, after-work activities, such as golf. I do remember the friendships that I had in the military; those that seemed so strong in the face of shared danger in foreign lands. There are bonds of friendship that grow out of shared experiences, both good and bad.

For those of us who get lucky, the best friend that one will ever have in life is the old cooupleperson that we choose to marry and spend our lives with. We may have other friends in our lives, but none will be as close, as intimately involved with us or and co-dependent upon us as our spouse. I have the great fortune to be celebrating 50 years together with my best friend this year.

Friendships are good for us because they both give to us and require of us. They force us out of our protective shells and draw out of us the good that is in us all. Think of those in your life whom you would call friends and those who think of you as their friend. If they were standing behind you, would you feel safe to fall backwards?  If you were behind them, would you make the effort to catch them if they fell? How does that make you feel? Be a friend today and feel good about it.

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Be a friend to a fault…

May 9, 2015

“If you are looking for a friend who is faultless, you will be friendless.” (Rumi)

I’ve written recently about taking proactive steps in the lives of others who need your help. That’s what real friends do.man thinking
They don’t sit back and say,”Tut, tut, look how he/she is screwing up their life.” Real friends jump in and ask how they can help or maybe insist that their friend get help. Perhaps it is a good test of whether the relationship that you have with the other person should be classified as a friendship. Maybe they are just acquaintances.

We get very few opportunities in life to form strong friendships. Hopefully your relationship with your life partner is based upon a strong friendship and not just matters of physical attraction, because eventually that could turn into a fault that you will find in them. I think women tend to have a greater ability to form bonds of friendship with other women and perhaps overlook the faults that might be there. Men sometimes are on athletic teams or in military situations where strong bonds of friendship can grow (especially when the men are far from home soldiersand under daily combat stress) . Sometimes those bonds of friendship will outlast the team or the military unit that brought them together, but it seems to be harder in the general work-a-day world to find enough in common to encourage friendships; maybe that’s because so much of the work world is competitive in nature rather than cooperative. Men may have lots of “buddies” but few real friends that they can count on.

It is all too easy to find fault in others; and, because of those faults to avoid getting involved with them. Sometimes those in whom we see faults are already our friends and perhaps their perceived faults really bother us. In some cases the “faults” that we see are just cases where they have a different opinion about something than we do – social policies, religion, politics, etc. Perhaps they are more tolerant of something or someone that we cannot stomach. Maybe they have other friends that you cannot tolerate. Maybe the problem is you. Those are not faultsthinking woman of your friend; those are faults that you bring to the friendship.

So, rather than spending time finding faults in your friends; expend that same amount of energy celebrating that you have a friend. So what if he/she is a little late every now and then (maybe even all the time), at least they are there and the world did not end because they were a little late. Does it really matter that they lean towards the left and you are a solid right-winger? Has the bitter divide in politics really gotten so wide and so strong that it can break up friendships? Is it really that annoying that they dress differently or wear their hair differently or perhaps wear a little too much perfume or body wash? Maybe you can help them with some of those things in subtle ways, as a friend; but certainly don’t let things like that ruin your friendship. Maybe you can have an on-going and friendly dialogue about your differences; all the while strengthening your friendship.

Some people like to befriend people who a lot like themselves; others tend to try to have friends that are the opposite of themselves (in hopes, I guess, of some of that’s friends traits rubbing off on them). Whichever is your penchant, don’t girls huggingthen get annoyed with the faults that you may find in that friend – they just came along for the ride. Focus on the things that you like about your friend, not the things that annoy you. Try to understand your differences, not just be annoyed by them. Then, when you’re alone, spend some time exploring why you get annoyed by those supposed faults. You have just discovered one of your own faults, so maybe you can change that trait in yourself and stop annoying your friends. Perhaps you can ask your friend how they’ve been able to put up with you.  It’s a good thing that they weren’t looking for a faultless friend.