Friday, October 16, 2009

Friendship

I had sort of an epiphany the other day. I needed this clarity. I needed to stop beating myself up, questioning my integrity, challenging my stance, a hard line I didn't draw in the sand but refused to cross also. Instead my heart walked away.

A very wise man once told his students that in order to be a good friend you had to follow 5 simple steps. They were be the first to communicate, be the first to smile, be the first to care, the first to share, the first to forgive. That last one he warned would be the hardest but the most important. By being the first to forgive you were being the better person, taking the high road, setting the example, being the friend you yourself wanted to have. I took this to heart, carried it there, reflected on it.

Somewhere many years later I read a quote that said "To have friends you must first be a good one." I don't know who said it and I don't know if I truly care who said it, but it struck a cord with me as it encompassed everything in those five steps above. For people I love, for people I care to have a true friendship with, more than a casual acquaintance, I do my best to follow this thought, to be a good friend.

I am so very thankful for my friends.

A couple years ago I lost a lot of friends I considered to be family. They came to my wedding and weren't on the "God I *have* to invite these people" list. They lied about me, they used me. But one person told me to just suck it up and go apologize for the miscommunication, beg some forgiveness and in time the cloud would pass and things would be back to normal. I couldn't do that. And I struggled with my integrity. How could I believe this saying, embrace these steps as truth and not actually carry them out? I don't like to be someone who talks out of both sides of her mouth.

And then it hit me. If you want to have friends you must first be a good one. HAVE. If you want to HAVE friends... and that was it. I don't want to have them for friends. I don't have to beat myself up inside over not being the first one to go back and talk to them again, to first forgive them for the childish character assassination in my own home and subsequent fallout afterwards. It was this simple all along and I never put it all together. I knew it on the surface but never felt like it followed my heart.

For me this is liberating for my spirit, like shedding a molted layer of skin to reveal fresh growth and new life. I can honestly say I am a better person for having known them. But they can never take away the lessons I have learned and the foundation from which I will continue to learn. I am no longer stricken with doubt and I was wrong to question my own integrity.

I like thinking simpler.