So, as many of you are aware, I had some concerns this week about a friend. As it turns out, he is okay. Thankfully. In truth, it was a very scary couple of days for me. At the believed disappearance of a very dear friend, my mind played through the most disturbing worst-case scenarios imaginable. My heart ached with the fear of having lost that friend. And through all of it, I was reminded of a couple of truths about friendship.

As a child, I had a very simple view of friendship. A person was either my friend, or not my friend. I chose a “best friend”…mostly because it seemed that was the thing to do. And the choice of that best friend in childhood usually had more to do with convenience and whoever I managed to spend the most time with (usually someone that lived nearby), not on any real basis of things in common or a close bond. Friendship was a simple thing.

As a teenager, friendships began to change. There began to be more of a hierarchy within a circle of friends. Still the prominent best friend, and a step down from that, a few more close friends. The best friend at this point was based more on common interests. Common background. A common bond. While this made the friendship more meaningful, it also made it more fragile. There were real feelings vested in this friendship that can be easily wounded. And the volatile teenage emotions made for some very rocky friendships at times.

As an adult, I don’t so much feel the need to identify a best friend. It’s not about the politics of friendship. It’s about enjoying fellowship with people that my soul connects with. There may be the common interests and common background. Or it may be common sense of humor. Perhaps it’s shared experiences. The friend may be a polar opposite, with no obvious similarities at all. But for whatever reason, there is a connection, a bond…that is important on a level beyond my comprehension. My spiritual beliefs would lead me to believe that the connection is orchestrated on a higher level…as some might simply say…”It’s a God thing”.

I could begin to count the number of friends that I have lost in my life, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that most of them, looking back, were not really very true friends to start with. There was a misplacement of trust with them. And I suppose this is part of the learning process of growing up…learning to discern who is trustworthy, and who will most likely stab you in the back.

And now I find that trust is an issue again. At this point in my life the instances of being stabbed in the back are much more rare, but still happen from time to time. I’ve learned to be more careful about who I put my trust in. But one thing that I have apparently lost sight of (or perhaps never entirely learned) is identifying who those true friends are.

This is what I learned this week. There will come a time when you learn who your true friends are. In times of crisis…times of pain…the people that you can turn to. That will be there to show their love and support for you in whatever way it’s needed…THOSE are your true friends.

The second truth I was reminded of is that you should NEVER take your true friends for granted. None of us has the promise of more than this day. This moment, for that matter. We never know what the future holds. We never know when that cherished, beautiful friendship will be taken away from us forever.

May I remember to hold tightly to my friendships. Being grateful for them every moment. And taking every possible opportunity to express to my friends how much I love them and how important they are to me. Because in the end, I don’t want to be left wondering if there was something I should have said or done…but didn’t.