The Awesome Power of Friendship
By Stephen Doherty
“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized
than true friendship.” –Thomas Aquinas
I count myself fortunate to know so many exceptional people of good will and sincere love of life. The world would be a pretty awful place without the underpinnings of the good friends we share our lives with. My mother used to say that a river would be nothing without all the streams and creeks that flow into it. Mothers always seem to get it right. In so many ways, we are a by product of our friendships.
There are four types of friends that we make throughout our lives. They fit that profile of the famous quote about special people we meet. “People come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime.”
Most of us have many such friends. They are bit players in the overall story of our lives. Some we’ve known since childhood, and many we’ve stumbled across over the years on sports teams, in classrooms, at parties, etc. We know them well enough to share a beer and a laugh, but little else. They are peripheral to the deeper more meaningful friendships we all develop.
There are many friends we have who rise to the level of intimate and trusted by the mere volume of our collective experiences. The intimacy we share with these great friends is a by product of so much familiarity born of thousands of shared encounters. The trust we’ve acquired is due to a lifetime of shared scars and tests of allegiance and loyalty that were never failed. Along the way, we’ve had to shed a few of these friends as they proved unwilling or unable to wear the jersey. Those who remain are the ones we’d share a foxhole with or trust our families with. These are our Band of Brothers.
I have a group of friends who are some of the toughest and most trustworthy people I know. Why? Not because of physical prowess or net worth or even familiarity–but because they are fearless in their vulnerability and willingness to share thoughts and emotions on virtually any subject. Some of these people I’ve known a lifetime. Some of them I’ve met only in recent years. There’s an insane trust that develops between people unafraid to be authentic. There’s a bond that develops between people genuinely interested in each others lives and well being. The world can be a harsh and inhospitable place. I often wonder how many tragedies might have been averted if more people had someone to truly confide in.
Best friends usually comprise some combination of all the above. They also hold the added distinction of being the mortar between the bricks in our lives. The safety nets for those invariable falls off the cliff. The people who have laughed with us, cried with us, or shook sense into us when few other people had the courage or inclination to make the attempt. I have a handful of very special people in my life who I’ve shared my heart and soul with and who are indelibly woven into the fabric of my being. I love them as family. To me, the proof of angels exists in our shared encounters and experiences.
“A friend knows the song in my heart and
sings it to me when my memory fails.” ~ Donna Roberts