I spoke at my youth group on friendship tonight. As much as I dislike public speaking, I readily accepted the opportunity to write a small piece and present it. Here's what I chose to say :)
Perhaps, then, it’s easier to start with what a friend is not. Friendship is not one-sided. It’s not about what you get from the other person, or what they get from you. A friend shouldn't be someone you idolize. True friends are equals. A friend should be your partner, not your leader nor your follower.
What is a friend, then?
A friend is someone who you respect and who respects you, someone whom you trust with your whole heart, and who trusts you. A friend is someone who loves you, and would do anything for you. John 15:13, one of the greatest verses in the Bible about friendship, says that “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Friends are selfless.
It’s that person you can call in the middle of the night, and they’ll still pick up the phone. The one who you can do the most menial things with, and they won't care, because they just want to spend time with you. You can vent to them, and they won't judge you. They’ll support you through anything – but they’ll also tell you the truth when you need to hear it. And you’ll listen – because you value and respect them. More than anything, they should be the people who point you towards God, who push you towards pursuing him every day.
So, then, what is a friend? I'm not sure there’s any one definition. Because, more than anything, a friend is someone who is there. Through good times and bad, through fights and conflict. At the end of my life, I won't remember every friend I ever had a good time with. But I will remember the friends who stood by my side, even it was hard.
Because, in my opinion, that’s what a true friend should be – loyal. We can't always expect our friends to be perfect. At one time or another, they will let us down, but a friendship can always be repaired. Forgiveness and friendship go hand in hand. We don't have to be the perfect friend, because it is impossible for any of us to ever be perfect. But we can be there for one another. And sometimes, that’s all we need.