When I was a child, my friendships were created by walking together to school, sitting next to each other in the cafeteria, and being chosen for the kickball team at recess.
Later in my life, I remember having coffee with my friends as our babies played nearby.
I wouldn’t think of going a day without talking to my friends on the phone.
I made friends sitting next to other moms as our children played soccer and baseball. I have had coworkers who became close confidants and soul connections.
Now in our fast-paced world do we know what having a close friend is? Do we confuse friendship with acquaintance? Is friendship defined by a blue thumbs-up on social media? Do these cartoon thumbs really represent a person that touches our hearts or are many of them there for self-acknowledgment – the more the better.
I asked the question- “What is your definition of a Friend?” to a progression of ages.
A 6-year-old answered, “They are nice and funny.”
A 9-year-old responded with, “They are nice and they like who you are, not for how you look but for who you are.”
A 12-year-old reacted with, “Best pal, your forever buddy, someone who will be there if times get tough.”
Another 12-year-old replied, “Friendship is a bond that can’t easily be broken. Friends know what you’re going to say/do before you do it. They know what you are feeling.”
A 17-year-old reacted with, “Friends are people that are loyal to each other.”
A 47-year-old answered, “Friends are people who make your problems their problems so you don’t have to go through it alone.”
A 69-year-old said, “Someone I am always there for and they are always there for me.”
An 86-year-old said thoughtfully, “I tend to like people I have always been friends with. If you live to be old and can count your friends on the fingers of one hand- great! If you have more, that’s a bonus!”
An 87-year-old answered – “Somebody that you can rely on to ask personal questions and she won’t tell anyone else, and you do things together.”
I would agree with all these definitions.
My definition would be someone that I hold mutual support, encouragement, and trust with. Someone I can laugh with and cry with. Someone, the first one, I would call at 2 AM to tell good news or bad.
Friendship morphs, grows, stagnates, or disintegrates during different stages and circumstances in life. There are many reasons for the ebb and flow, closeness, or detachment of a friendship.
Location plays a huge role. As a child moving across town changes the dynamic of friendship. For me, growing up in a military family, moves across the country plunked me into new schools and new populations. I learned how to make friends on the playground or stand alone.
Divorce will create a situation of dividing property, belongings, and yes, friends.
As we age, death and illness become a reality of life. Friends may pass away before us or become physically or mentally unable to participate in a friendship.
I have lived in many places and I have had many friendships. Some are lasting like my oldest friend in life – shout out to Kristi. Some have faded due to relocation. Some have been shattered by broken trust. Some have been lost through the division of divorce and separation of death.
I wonder if, as our friend circle shrinks, should we be trying to make new friends? Or is my small inner circle of trusted friends enough?
No matter where you are in this cycle of life or what your definition of a friend is, my hope for you is that you have at least one.
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Pennie’s Life Lesson
“When you find a friend hold them close to your heart.
A true friendship should be valued and honored.”
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