True friendship is based primarily on what and how you feel, think, see and carry each other in your heart. And because true friendship is a heart matter, it is very difficult to judge or quantify. If you are truly and genuinely somebody’s friend, you will know it but more important, they will know it too. True friendship is like being in love, you know you are in love, but mostly don’t know why, because if you know why, the moment that reason becomes weak or absent, the relationship is over.
These are some of the ways to measure your level and depth of friendships.
- When you are happy, who is most happy for you without feeling less in themselves?
- Whenever you call your friend or they call you, is it to catch up on your last conversation, a deal, a trip or just to find out if it is all well with you and your family? In other words, do you only talk or relate because you have to or because you want to?
- When you are down, unhappy or just low on the inside, but you carry on as normal without telling anybody or show any sign of what or how you are feeling on the inside of you, who is that person that pulls you aside, pat your back, wink at you, squeeze your fingers or hold you up in prayers and walk you through or walk with you through this low time without the feeling of having one over you, better than you or become judgmental of you?
- When your heart is heavy and you are almost bursting in the seems, who is that person or persons that you turn to not for help but for audience?
- In whose company are you free to be yourself, where there is no mask, acting, or playing the part or “keeping up with the Jones”, even though the Jones are tired too!
- Who can you share your dreams, desires, failures, mistakes and successes with and still feel just normal?
- Do you feel used or are you using your friends for selfish gain or reasons?
- Why are you comfortable around some people and not others? Not because they condone your foolishness, even though that is part of being a true friend, but because they let you just be you.
- What are you prepared to lay down, walk away from, sacrifice and forego for the sake of your friend and vise versa, because this is a sign of a true friend?
10. When and if you ever cross the line of natural ethics and human decency – socially, financially, physically, emotionally, morally and spiritually, who can you turn to after God to bear your heart and lay it all out on the table without holding back anything for fear of punishment or reprisal?
11. Who are you totally and completely vulnerable with?
12. Apart from God and your spouse, who can you not hold a secret from?
These are some of the yardstick in measuring your true friends and when you find them, they are worth every ounce of their weight in gold and every other precious metal you can think of. Cherish, value, guard and protect them and the relationships with every fibre in your body – they are worth it! If you don’t have anybody in your life that satisfy at least 5 out of these 12 points (which is not an exhaustive list); unfortunately, you are lonely, naked and living a fraction of your life. I strongly encourage you to become some of these pointers to somebody and by the law of nature, whatever you make happen to others, God will make it happen to you too.
In life, from birth to death, we are all privilege to find 5 true friends in total. Some will come and some will go, but at the end, like the your 5 fingers, when you review your entire life, you will discover that all in all, you actually and truly have only five (5) true friends. These 5 friends are usually distributed over the 5 stages of our lives. Some you will discover and bond with at each stage, others will come in twos or threes at different stages in our lives. The important lesson is that we recognise them when they cross our path.
Naturally, the 5 stages are as follows:
Stage 1. Between the age of 3 – 13 years old
Stage 2. Between the age of 14 – 24 years old
Stage 3. Between the age of 25 – 42 years old
Stage 4. Between the age of 43 – 60 years old
Stage 5. Between the age of 60 – rapture or death.
Usually, the last stage is the most enjoyable and at the same time most painful. At this level, we reflect a lot on life, good and bad; things we did or did not do, things we should have or should not have, but most importantly the people who God had allowed to into our lives, what and how we related and dealt with them, the lesson we now know we should have learnt and the praises we had received for the ones we learnt. It is at this stage in life when we realise the true meaning and value of friendship. It is not uncommon to see older people become passionately friendly with their grand children or old friends because time is a great teacher of value. This is also why elderly people will get up one day; travel far and wide in search of old friends and relatives and sometimes on the other side of the world to where they live.
Time is the essential commodity of any relationships – both in quantity and in quality. Time is also the greatest article you can invest, it never depreciate, it always appreciate if invested wisely and in the right places and time.