But I have prayed for thee, that they faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy bretheren. ~ Luke 22:32
Everybody wants friends. Everybody needs friends. No one wishes to be without them. But never lose sight of the fact that it is your friends who will lead you along the paths that you will follow. While y ou should be friendly with all people, select with great care those whom you wish to have close to you. They will be your safeguards in situations where you may vacillate between choices, and you in turn may save them."
When I first read this, I thought of the youth and how important their social interactions are. I thought of how influential friendships can be and how important it is to keep the company of friends that enjoy the same things you do and for the most part, stand for the same things that you do. While as a youth, I had a lot of friends that were of my faith, but just as many that weren't. All of my friends had special strengths that they brought out in me, and the friends that didn't share my faith and standards, respected me for what I believed. I am grateful for the diversity that I enjoyed in my high school friendships and that I didn't limit my friendships to only those that I went to church with. I am also so especially grateful for those good friends who did share my beliefs and were the glue that held me to my standards when I needed help holding on.
But I also was thinking about friendship during adulthood. Again, I have been blessed with such amazing friendships. Much of them are family relationships that I have been born into and have married into. I am grateful for the friendships that have come from these family associations and know that this is not always the case, so I feel blessed to call my family my friends.
I, as well have friendships that have lasted twenty years and I know will continue on for ever. Nothing can replace the friendship of memories and time. Those girls know me...every age of me, better than anyone else. I have friendships that have budded and grown through my young adult life that I know I could not live with out.
Ultimately, I'm so blessed that I can call my husband my best friend. No other relationship can compare and I wouldn't trade that for anything.
I think President Hinckley's counself to caution ourselves on whom we choose to have close to us, is very wise. If you are like me, you are a pretty open person. I have had a hard time in my life knowing who I can trust, and at the same time, I think there are times I've struggled with being trust worthy in my friendships. Gossip is so rampant, especially in friendships and associations with women. Those kind of relationships are not ones of much depth and definitely are not trustworthy. Realistically, not many people who participate in gossip actually admit it or feel unashamed about it. Most people wish they could stop. I've been there...I've been someone who gossiped, and occasionally, I find myself verging the line of venting and gossiping. It's so important that we are trustworthy friends and that we keep the company of trustworthy friends. Gossip ruins relationships and sometimes lives. For me, trust is the basis of any friendship. Without being able to trust that your friend can be honest with you, there's not much that is real to base a relationship upon.
Hand in hand with honesty is the ability to show who you really are. To not be a fake person. A friendship that is based upon fake pretenses can not ever truly be real. I, again, have made this mistake. Having to pretend to be something that you aren't is like living in a trap and ultimately is a lie by omission. It's unfair to yourself and to those whom you are associating with.
Lastly, there has to be love and respect. You should care for your friends deeply enough that there is a mutual respect. Friends who do not respect your wishes, standards, or beliefs ultimately have their own selfish interests in mind and friendships such as those will never be more than one sided. Friends that have respect for you will understand your needs and sympathize with your situations.
I am grateful to have friends in my life that we share trust, love and respect. It's a constant progression, learning to be a good friend, but I truly believe that surrounding yourself with good friends teaches you how to be one. A good friend will make you want to be a better person, and you will desire their righteous qualities for your own. I am the person I am today, because of the influences of my friendships in my life. I am grateful my friends have let my learn by their examples, and I hope I can continue to try to be the same kind of friend to them, that they are to me.
Because as President Hinckley stated above, "Everybody wants friends. Everybody needs friends. No one wishes to be without them." And no one should have to be.