What does it mean to be a true friend? This blog post got me thinking. In today's society, we use the term "friend" rather loosely. At last check, I have 825 friends on Facebook. My best friend dubs me the unofficial mayor of Alexandria because whenever she and I are out together, without fail, we run into someone I know! But out of all of the connections I have made in my life, how many of those people are true friends?
I am a huge sports fan. And, while not every person you'd call a friend in your life will fit into these two categories, to me, it makes sense. Think of a professional football team playing in a game. Behind every team are the fans. With every team are the water boys.
There are different types of fans. We all know the die hard fans. Some might call them fanatics. They support their team no matter what. In their eyes, their favorite team can do no wrong. Then there are the fair-weather fans. Those who jump on the bandwagon when the team has a winning season, but as soon as the team starts to struggle, they fade away into the background.
Nobody ever really thinks about the water boys. In actuality, they play an important role. The water boys are down on the sidelines with the team. They choose to be there. They are not obligated (they probably don't even get paid. I don't know.) Such a position provides them a unique perspective. The water boys are right beside the players and coaches as they experience the ups and downs of the game. The triumphs, challenges, tears, high fives...the reaction and emotions associated with the outcome of the game. The water boys also provide the most important thing - water. No matter how talented, skilled, or determined a player you are, you will not make it through an entire game without water! Water keeps you going and allows you to play at your best. Yes, each professional player could fill their own water bottle and search for it when he comes off the field, but it is nice and comforting to know that someone is there for them when they need the water most.
A true friend is one that who helps you grow. One who challenges, encourages, enriches and strengthens you. A true friend is with you as you think through something and (to continue with my analogy) play the game called life. This does not mean they always agree with you. A true friend is not a fanatic. S/he is not afraid to confront you when they feel you may be going off course. A true friend is not a fair weather fan either. No need to fear them jumping off the bandwagon when you have a losing season. A true friend is analogous to a "water boy" - One who is with you during the struggles, the triumphs and the plateaus. One who has made the choice to be there no matter how the game is going.
At any professional football game, there are thousands of fans, but only a few water boys. I have 825 friends/"fans" on Facebook, but only a small number of those are "water boys".
Who are the water boys in your life?
*Christians would say that Jesus is the truest friend. As a Christian myself, I couldn't agree more. It is not often that I (or most people) take time to seriously think about what makes a true friend, a true friend. The qualities of a true friend are also the qualities of Jesus. When you strive to be a true friend, you become more like Jesus.
PS: Yes, I know the team does not have the same water boys every game. For the purposes of this analogy, ignore that part.