Picking Superhero Friends

Day 13 in Proverbs 

Proverbs 13: 20 “Wise friends make you wise, but you hurt yourself by going around with fools.”
  
But oh! the blessing it is to have a friend to whom one can speak fearlessly on any subject; with whom one’s deepest as well as one’s most foolish thoughts come out simply and safely.  Oh, the comfort – the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person – having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.”  – Dinah Craik, A Life for a Life 

A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down.” – Arnold Glasow

You can always tell a real friend:  when you’ve made a fool of yourself he doesn’t feel you’ve done a permanent job.”   –  Laurence J. Peter 

“A friend accepts us as we are yet helps us to be what we should.”  Author Unknown

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Friends are not a luxury in my life, but a true need.  I think perhaps I need them more than the average person (weird since I am a pretty strong introvert), but hopefully because of this I appreciate them more than the average person.  Sometimes on the surface a lot of my friends (OK, most) often act like crazy people, but when you get down to the core I have a bunch of really wise friends.  I choose them carefully and I respect wisdom and kindness in people, so tend to gravitate to people who possess them.  I’ve learned over the years that while you can have people in your life that you love and care about, you should also pay attention to those who reciprocate.  A true friendship travels in both directions.  You can be a friend to a person that is not a friend to you, and there is nothing wrong with that, as long as you are aware when that is the case.  If this is a commonality in all of your friendships, however, you need to get to work and find a few truly healthy ones.

It’s always intrigued me at how some people pick friends.  Often I don’t understand it at all.  Why would you call someone a friend that doesn’t even pretend to like you?  Why would you call someone friend that constantly ridicules you….and doesn’t seem to be aware of your sensitivities?  Why do you call someone a friend who doesn’t seem to want the best for you…..and in fact, cheers you on to make decisions that will hurt you in the long run?  Why do you call someone a friend when they don’t rejoice at the good things going on in your life and aren’t ready to stand by you during the bad times?  Why would you call someone a friend if they are resentful for what you have received through hard work or even just by chance?  Why do you call someone a friend if they aren’t interested in your life in the least?  It perplexes me, that is for sure.

So, in the spirit of Proverbs 13:20 here I go…..Kim’s Rules for Discovering Who Your True Friends Really Are:

  • A true friend sees you as you really are.  All, or at least most of, the flaws included.  They also see the good things, too.  They see them because they really see you……they take the time to notice the nuances and do not just judge you on the surface.  They get to know your heart….and your brain.  And they like that heart and brain.  If you have to hide who you are from your friends, strike their name off your friends list.  They’re friends with someone else who doesn’t exist….not with you.
  • A true friend is there when things are bad.   Even when it is difficult for them.  Especially when it is difficult for them.  I had a friend, for example, who had cancer and was told by a “close friend” that they couldn’t see her with her wig off because it was upsetting to them.  They also could not be around her as she was going through chemotherapy…..once again, it was too upsetting for them.  There are times when as far as your friend is concerned, it should be all about you.  If you are going through a tough time and their comfort matters more to them than you do, they are not your friend.  Strike them off the list.
  • A true friend is happy when things are going well in your life, regardless of whether things are going as well in their own life.  One thing has nothing to do with the other.  In fact, the joy they get at seeing things go well in your live raises their spirits even in the worst of times.   If someone does not celebrate your joys, victories and gifts, they are not your friend.  Strike them off the list.
  • A true friend doesn’t care that you have more stuff than them, more money than them, a better family than them, a better job than them, more friends than them…..in fact, they only appreciate it on your behalf.  If someone envies these things, and is always sizing up your pile against theirs, they are not not your friend, and may need to be stricken from the list.
  • A true friend does not take pleasure in seeing you do self-destructive things.  They want the best for you….and are going to encourage that you be the best that you can be.  They may give you freedom to make your own mistakes…..but that is a different thing than being happy that you are making them.  If someone looks on with amusement as you do really dumb things for which you will pay major consequences, consider striking them off the friend list. 
  • A true friend does not find your bad behavior acceptable….and they are not afraid to tell you.  With love.  Without nagging.  Committing to support you as you try to make things right.  If they stick around and allow you to behave badly, if they enable you to do so, they are not your friend.  Unconditional love does not mean unconditional blindness. If they don’t care about that, if it doesn’t grieve them to see you making dumb mistakes that impact your life and the lives of others, strike them off the list.  They are not your friend.
  • A true friend does not ridicule you, in front of you or behind your back.  That’s not to say that they don’t tease you and on occasion make fun of you (good thing, or I would have to wipe most of my friends off my list), but they know your sensitivities and keep them off limits.  That’s not to say that your friends should have to read your mind…..sometimes you have to confess these sensitivities.  But  when you do, they respect it.  And if they don’t, strike them from the list!  They are probably not your friend. 
  • A true friend cringes for you when you make a fool of yourself.  They try to help.  But if they can’t, they have short memories.  They allow a few foolish moments, and may be there to support you as you recover from them, but then they don’t dwell on them.  They allow you to put the foolish behind you.  And if they don’t, they are often not your friend.  And if not, strike them off the list.
  • A true friend does not try to run your life.  They are busy running their own.  They see their own weaknesses and know they have work to do on them.  While they are honest in their assessments about decisions you make, they acknowledge those decisions are yours.  If they try to take over, and take away your personal freedom, they are not your friend and should be stricken from your list.
  • A true friend enjoys who you are.  They think you are fun to be around.  They are not embarrassed by who you are (well, unless you really are embarrassing), and want to spend time with you.  When not able to be around, they miss you.  If they are looking for ways to avoid your presence, they are not your friend.   And if you find this to be true, strike them from your list.
  • A true friend cares about your physical, emotional and spiritual life.  They may ask questions about any of these….and you don’t mind.  You know where their heart is and you know that they love and respect you.  If they do not love and respect you as they ask these questions, consider striking them from your list.  They may not be your friend.
  • A true friend respects your time, your family, your beliefs, your responsibilities and your commitments.  If they do not, you may need to strike them from the friends list.
  • A true friend speaks up for you.  They support you whether you are in the room or not.  They have your back when you need someone to have your back.  If they don’t, strike them off the list.  They probably aren’t your friend.
  • A true friend has the capability to be a friend.  They have the ability to think of others than themselves.  They have the capacity to care and be kind.  They have a certain level of maturity and have expectations that you have the same.  They possess wisdom, and keep being the fool to a minimum.  If they don’t, handle with care.  They may not be able to be your friend….and may need to be stricken from the list.

I seemed to be pretty heavy-handed with the strikes, and I don’t actually think it should happen that quickly or easily.  There are often underlying reasons why some of these things happen.   Don’t make rash decisions, but pay attention.  Ask questions.  Don’t be afraid to confront.  It’s better to confront than to let bad things fester.  Friendship is a great gift.  It should be treasured.   Sometimes we get so caught up in our own stuff, we forget to pay attention to those we love.  When that happens, our friends should bring it to our attention.  Not defensively, but lovingly.  Yep, it may tear apart the friendship, but if the friendship is that fragile, those are the friendships to lose.  Life is better lived with strong, powerful and wise friends.  They have superpowers…..and they are part of your Justice League.   Oh, the things you can do in this world as you work together….but superheroes must have the superpower of wisdom.  The fools never survive.

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