When friends stop being frank and truthful with each other, the whole world loses some of its radiance. C. Broyard
I have long held the belief that friendship is the most important, most meaningful and lasting of relationships. One of the most important reasons we develop relationships with others is to become part of a community of fellowship in which we feel welcome and validated. We are seeking to be counted, respected, and accepted for who we are and to be allowed the opportunity to grow and shine radiantly within that environment. As friends grow together and their relationship deepens, an automatic standard is set and this is what makes the friendship so special. The mutual respect and awareness of the ways of a friend, her idiosyncrasies, strengths and weaknesses are factors central to the bonding between friends. Many times we see in a friend some vital quality that we ourselves may lack. Your friend may be a pragmatist while you are quick to action and so you turn to her steadying influence when you need to take slow deliberate steps. How wonderful to hear the compliments and words of support from a friend, or to hear her encouraging words when we feel like we may falter and cannot take another step.
The words of Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh carry such poignancy; they will forever resonate with me: “If ever there is a tomorrow when we are not together, there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we are apart, I will always be with you.”
I have remained friends with a group of girls I went to school with from elementary through high school and have continued the ties into adulthood for decades. The remembrances and laughter come easily when we get together and our grasp is steadfast and strong when we stretch our hands across the miles to lift another up in the face of trials and tribulations that are inherent in the journey. This bond is a circle of reassurance; of validation. As the years pass and changes take place in our lives, we have extended our persona –and we have come to realize it’s not about becoming different people, but extending the definition of who we are. In much the same way we work to validate each other, it is also important that we acknowledge and honor the changes that take place.
A recent disagreement between a friend and me, reminded me that while there is no standard writing of the script for friendship, what should never change is our commitment to honesty and the fortitude to maintain the integrity of the relationship. This requires work and often, making sacrifices and journeying into unfamiliar territory that may leave you uncomfortable. Yet, this is the very test of friendship; seeking the truth, speaking the truth, as it is the hallmark of our growth and development in the relationship.
As I found out, these muddy waters are critical spaces that facilitate blossoming and the journey into another phase of our own development. There is a popular saying, in order to gain a true friend, you must first become one. Although we tend to form friendships with people who are similar to us, part of the lure of friendship is also the difference between us. And it is this difference that often pushes us to learn from a friend and stretch ourselves. We tell the truth to our friends even when it is a challenge to do so.
As we look critically at a friend we also see a mirror reflection of ourselves, one which, if we are willing to experience the hard edge of truth, reflects to us a view of our own selves: Our similarities, our differences, and the passion that binds us together. How powerful this invitation to grow and the realization that truthfulness and honesty reside at the heart of the relationship; for as C. Boyard states: When friends stop being frank and truthful with each other, the whole world loses some of its radiance.