To review: 1. Do not impose my interpretation (and expectations) of how the world SHOULD work on others and 2. Believe folks when they teach me how they believe the world should work. If I fail to embrace either of these two practices in all my relationships, I might believe that someone is a trusted friend when they really are not. This does not mean that they are an enemy, or that there is something wrong, the relationship just may be different than we thought or hoped.
Trusted friends are not necessarily obvious choices. Because this is such a challenging thing to figure out, I hope we will all exercise a ton of compassion towards ourselves and others as we sort out what it means to have a trusted friend.
We do not have to agree on much of anything to be a trustworthy friend. What we MUST do is have our friend’s best interest as a top priority. We need to be not only willing, but eager, to set aside our own interests for the sake of theirs. (For this to be a trusted friendship, this is a mutual give and take, otherwise, this is not a friendship, it is a ministry opportunity. Or 12 step work.) We celebrate their victories; we grieve their defeats. We find joy in their joy; their sorrow is ours and vice versa. This doesn’t mean that the relationship will be EQUAL, although of course, over the course of a lifetime, we hope it evens out. But it may not. If we’re hoping for equality, we are not talking about a friendship, we’re negotiating a deal.
A trusted friendship is one where there is a shared commitment to not only compassion, but carrying each other’s burdens. A real friendship will involve inconvenience, hurt feelings, and aggravations from time to time. On a practical level, when I think about my dearest friends, I would say that they are the kind of people that make watching paint dry together fun. Getting lost together is an adventure. Losing together is a comfort. Standing together at a graveside in the rain and wind is a privilege.
Some of us trust too easily or too long. Relationships change. It’s important to pay attention, be honest, and not assume that once a friend, always a friend. Or, for that matter, once an enemy, always an enemy.
Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.
~ Proverbs 18:24 The Message