The Measure of A Friend

July 12, 2011

I have done some serious thinking over the past few weeks.  As opposed to all of that frivolous thinking I normally engage.

Early in my 20’s, I read a book called “Boundaries” and, while it revolutionized my perspective on relationships, more specifically it laid me wide open and exposed my weird little pit of compensation and insecurity.  One of it’s most revealing truths was that a friendship is not a Real Friendship unless it possesses this unique attribute…

Are you ready?

Mutual admiration, affection and interest.

I know. Life changing.

And I’m really great at evaluating many things but in the realm of friendships?  I have always struggled with my judgment.  Where does loyalty come in?  How do I evaluate and determine the importance of hanging on when someone is struggling versus letting go because they are… Well… So over me?

Realizing a friendship has dissipated is a deep, gut wrenching feeling.  Something important has died.

No matter how I try to rationalize and justify the behavior of the other party, the truth remains.  I can’t do enough work on my own to make a friendship work.

Nobody tangos with Bernie… Just too much dead weight.  He doesn’t care and I’m just exhausted.

So what is the “measure of a good friend”?

Exodus 33:11 “God would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.”

Samuel 20:42 “Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’”

Job 6:14 “Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.

Proverbs 12:26a “The righteous choose their friends carefully…”

A friend is one who:

  • Speaks to me face to face… One who does not fear the closeness of personal interaction.
  • Sends me out with peace… I have no reason to fear when I am not in their company.  They understand the value of our relationship and look toward future generations being blessed by our interaction. (How shortsighted we have become in all of our super-duper excellence and societal evolution)
  • Does not withhold kindness.   Out of reverence and fear of God, a friend treats others well and doesn’t hold back. 
  • A friend is one who chooses and is chosen carefully… A friend is not one chosen out of an emotional “like” but out of careful consideration and evaluation.

Wow.  It’s obvious I have a lot to learn about being a friend.


  • I’m not good at this at all. I’ve moved far too often, and very far away. I have learned to accept very simple friendships, at face value, and leave it the heck alone. I look for allies as much as anything else. I am sure, as a woman, life is very different. Being social, friends are… everything. After family. This really is one of the huge differences between the sexes. Oddly, this is the one area where I would say men are more like cats, women more like dogs… The social arena. Except for business and war, but that is rooted in money and survival, not emotional ties. Those may come into it, but as an afterthought.

    You guys (gals) are way over my head and too complicated for my simple ways in these things. So… I don’t trust ya… in this area… even when you are right.

  • Your hair is so pretty. I think I want to squeeze you. I’m interested in your pecan pie recipe. 😉

    Its funny, In the shower this morning, otherwise known as the prayer closet, I felt a clear direction to start studying Friends /Friend with the boys. What is a friend. What makes a friend. I am seeing a pattern of – You are a kid that adores me, we can talk Roblox/Lego/Etc, You belong to me, you are my friend. I’m interested in seeing how much more a friend – is You Being Friendly – than Me Owning A Person who Adores Me. I might even learn something too. 😉 I’ll still keep ya in my back pocket though.

  • Hello friend! I love the bullet points at the end. I was on the end of a friendship once where I was let go…our politics didn’t match, I was a little too attached to my husband, I was over-zealous, and maybe I cooked too much. Weird stuff, but I lost a friendship for reasons probably not really known fully because my friend wouldn’t be totally honest, and it was a deep hurt for me. But now, a few years past it, I am so glad to not be party to a false friendship.

    But an experience like this does leave its residue…some fear, insecurity, paranoia–do they *really* like me? So, I literally have taped to my bathroom wall a list of truths from scripture (w/ Bible reference) about who I am in Christ, like I am wholly and completely loved, I am hidden in Christ, I am chosen to bear fruit, I am redeemed and forgiven, I am chosen before the creation of the world, I am Christ’s friend, and so on.

    I go about being a friend and living at peace with all as best I can, and try with all my heart (thought often failing) to let the rest roll off.

  • cruft

    There are people who have funny notions about friendship. They make “friends” for social or commercial advancement rather than out of sincere affection. They treat them as resources on which they can draw for their own purposes. I call these “gimme friends.” You probably know the type: “If you were really my friend, you’d do this for me!” That’s not the way it works. Friendship isn’t about your personal gain; it’s about love.

    A true friend doesn’t trumpet his triumphs at you when you’re in the dumps. He restrains himself until you’re back in good form. Misery doesn’t exactly love company, but it does appreciate sympathy. A true friend will know that.

    A true friend doesn’t make invidious comparisons between you. Is one of you smarter, better looking, richer, or more charming than the other? A lot, maybe? It won’t matter to him. He’ll never feel embarrassment over his association with you, and woe betide the miscreant who tries to make him!

    A true friend will support and encourage you when it’s appropriate, caution and discourage you when it’s not. He’ll know your limits; more, he’ll protect your innocence. He’ll know what burdens your conscience can and cannot withstand. He’ll remind you of them if he must, even if it should cost him your regard.

    A true friend can withstand the disapproval of the others in your life. True friendship is too important, and too rare, to allow it to be affected by the opinions of others.

    A true friend doesn’t keep a “friendship ledger.” He gives without thought of a reckoning-up. He might even know that there’s no way you could ever reciprocate. He doesn’t let that stop him.

    Upon hearing your cries of fear and pain, a true friend will drop everything, cross the continent to be with you, and refuse to leave your side, despite any and all inducements, until your crisis has passed…or you have.

    Apologies, Gentle Readers. I’m not often this maudlin, and I’m sure you didn’t come here for this sort of material. But I write, among other reasons, to assuage pain and grief, and this will be a very hard parting. I’ll try to find the author’s discussion on ‘male’ friendship and why it’s just about impossible. My take………we’ll only see it in eternity.

  • Doom

    Hello. Hope you are doing well. Oh, meant to mention.

    When I said I don’t trust… I meant probably I don’t understand. Since I don’t understand it does lead to distrust. However, on many things, I have learned to trust women in certain areas right through distrust. Sort of like you, perhaps, not trusting a machine because you don’t understand how it works if you really thought about it, yet getting in and driving it anyway? Yeah, like that. Just… wanted to clarify.

  • Doom

    Test. Test. Testing 1, 2, 3…

    (I hope you don’t mind?)

  • Not a bit.

  • NGC

    Interesting. I have recently slid into a quagmire of mid-life crisis coming from my DH of almost 30 years. One of my dear friends – we have stood the test of time from just married, to loss of pregnancies, illness, injury and even (her) divorce – recently dissed me when I called and desperately needed solace and an ear. I “heard” the words “what is the measure of a friend”. So I googled it, and found you, Heidi. Timely. Thanks for your words that underscored the need to be in the thick of life for each other.

    • Hi NGC, thanks for coming by. I will pray for you right now for wisdom, peace, and grace. Praying that you will find that Perfect Friend in Christ and He will comfort you and lead you to those within His Body who will have His heart of love and compassion toward you.