What is a friend?

Ask ten people and you will probably get a different definition from each person. When you start out in grade school you love to tag on the title “my best friend”. Somehow that makes your life sound so much better. At that time in your life, it usually means someone who will always play with you. Go on into high school, then adult life and unfortunately the depth really doesn’t change that much. It still usually revolves around someone with whom you hang with and spend endless hours talking.

It wasn’t till our journey with cancer that I had a “heavy revy” (heavy revelation) that many of the people that I had so loosely used the word friend on were really nothing more than a semi-familiar acquaintance. In the Bible in Proverbs 17:17 it says a friend loves at all times. In Proverbs 27:10, it says you would be wiser or better off to have a friend close by when disaster strikes than to have a brother far away. Then it says that Jesus is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. We have the preconceived idea that a friend is someone that is going to be beside you no matter what comes your way. When we were so dazed by cancer coming into our lives, and our world was spinning it was only then that we realized who our real friends were.

Our real friends stepped in to gently and objectively make sure we stayed focused, and they thought of all the little details. They did our thinking for us on minor things so we could focus on the main thing and that was Larry’s health. They thought and acted on the financial stress they knew we would be under. The most amazing thing was people we had known and thought we were close friends with; some just were not there for us. But God sent several new acquaintances to us that absolutely walked and sometimes carried us through parts of our journey. Our family was in Oklahoma so we proved Proverbs 27:10 to be true. It was better for us to have a friend close by than to have a brother far way.

One example I will never forget is Larry was to start his first chemo on December 26th.  Everyone knows just keeping up with all the scheduled Christmas parties with work, church, and both sides of the family is hectic just by themselves without adding anything extra to the mix.  I had a new friend named Jami who had Christmas plans with her husband, boys and their families. Her boys were young but she told her boys their Christmas plans would have to be put on hold till she returned from our home.  She told them nothing about their Christmas was as important as her helping us.  She made us a “Christmas Breakfast Casserole” for Christmas morning, and she came and taught me how to keep up with people by email. This was her idea to make my upcoming days a little easier to communicate with people.  At that time I knew very little about email. She showed me how a real friend acts. It was a lesson that I have always remembered, not from what she said but what she did.

I can also give you examples of people we had known a long time that never went out of their way to make a phone call, drop a card in the mail, or helping us with the huge financial burden we were facing. I remember one man at church that thought he was really doing something, and he would come up to us every time while he was leaving and say, “Now you call me if you need anything”.  I learned several things from him. I learned he really is just an acquaintance that really didn’t want to be bothered unless necessary. I also learned to try to place myself in the other person’s shoes. Generally, people do not like to ask for help, it is embarrassing, at least for people who do for themselves. From that I also learned when someone is going through something, I need to go out of my way and go the extra mile for them. It will mean everything to that person hurting. Treat people the way you would want to be treated.

There is a saying, that people may not remember what you say but they will never forget how you made them feel. Be it positive or negative.  Be a giver and go out of your way to give because you may be on the receiving end tomorrow. You will reap what you sow, that is a law of nature.

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