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    What is a friend? Friends are people with whom you dare to be yourself. Your soul can be naked with them. They ask you to put on nothing, only to be what you are. They do not want you to be better or worse. When you are with them, you feel as a prisoner feels who has been declared innocent. You do not have to be on your guard. You can say what you think, as long as it is genuinely you. Friends understand those contradictions in your nature that lead others to misjudge you. With them you breathe freely. You can avow your little vanities and envies and hates and vicious sparks, your meannesses and absurdities, and in opening them up to friends, they are lost, dissolved on the white ocean of their loyalty. They understand. You do not have to be careful. You can abuse them, neglect them, tolerate them. Best of all, you can keep still with them. It makes no matter. They like you. They are like fire that purges to the bone. They understand. You can weep with them, sing with them, laugh with them, pray with them. Through it all--and underneath--they see, know, and love you. A friend? What is a friend? Just one, I repeat, with whom you dare to be yourself.

    C. Raymond Beran, in Bits & Pieces, September 19, 1991, p. 3-4.

    Nothing in the world is friendlier than a wet dog.

    Dan Bennett, Bits & Pieces, April 28, 1994, p. 5.

    By friendship you mean the greatest love, the greatest usefulness, the most open communication, the noblest sufferings, the severest truth, the heartiest counsel, and the greatest union of minds of which brave men and women are capable.

    Jeremy Taylor.

    Berlin -- Jesse Owens seemed sure to win the long jump at the 1936 games. The year before he had jumped 26 feet, 8 1/4 inches -- a record that would stand for 25 years. As he walked to the long-jump pit, however, Owens saw a tall, blue eyed, blond German taking practice jumps in the 26-foot range. Owens felt nervous. He was acutely aware of the Nazis' desire to prove "Aryan superiority," especially over blacks. At this point, the tall German introduced himself as Luz Long. "You should be able to qualify with your eyes closed!" he said to Owens, referring to his two jumps. For the next few moments the black son of a sharecropper and the white model of Nazi manhood chatted. Then Long made a suggestion. Since the qualifying distance was only 23 feet, 5 1/2 inches, why not make a mark several inches before the takeoff board and jump from there, just to play it safe? Owens did and qualified easily. In the finals Owens set an Olympic record and earned the second of four golds. The first person to congratulate him was Luz Long -- in full view of Adolf Hitler. Owens never again saw Long, who was killed in World War II. "You could melt down all the medals and cups I have," Owens later wrote, "and they wouldn't be a platting on the 24-carat friendship I felt for Luz Long."

    David Wallechinsky in The Complete Book of the Olympics.

    When Jan Paderewski was to leave his native Poland to play his first recital in London, he asked an influential compatriot to give him a letter of introduction to a leading figure in Britain's musical world, who might be of assistance should anything go amiss. The letter was handed to him in a sealed envelope. He hoped that everything would proceed smoothly and he would not have to use it.

    He did not; his debut was a success and no snags develped. Some years later, while going through his papers, he came upon the letter and opened it. It read: "This will introduce Jan Paderewski, who plays the piano, for which he demonstrates no conspicuous talent."

    Bits & Pieces, January 9, 1992, p. 1 & 2.

    A British publication once offered a prize for the best definition of a friend. Among the thousands of answers received were the following:
    "One who multiplies joys, divides grief, and whose honesty is inviolable."
    "One who understands our silence."
    "A volume of sympathy bound in cloth."
    "A watch that beats true for all time and never runs down."
    The winning definition read: "A friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out."

    Bits & Pieces, July, 1991.

    Another source gives this version and source:
    A friend is the first person who comes in when the whole world goes out.

    Henry Durbanville.

    During his days as president, Thomas Jefferson and a group of companions were traveling across the country on horseback. They came to a river which had left its banks because of a recent downpour. The swollen river had washed the bridge away. Each rider was forced to ford the river on horseback, fighting for his life against the rapid currents. The very real possibility of death threatened each rider, which caused a traveler who was not part of their group to step aside and watch. After several had plunged in and made it to the other side, the stranger asked President Jefferson if he would ferry him across the river. The president agreed without hesitation. The man climbed on, and shortly thereafter the two of them made it safely to the other side. As the stranger slid off the back of the saddle onto dry ground, one in the group asked him, "Tell me, why did you select the president to ask this favor of?" The man was shocked, admitting he had no idea it was the president who had helped him. "All I know," he said, "Is that on some of your faces was written the answer 'No,' and on some of them was the answer 'yes.' His was a 'Yes' face."

    C. Swindol, The Grace Awakening, Word, 1990, p. 6.

    Jackie Robinson was the first black to play major league baseball. Breaking baseball's color barrier, he faced jeering crowds in every stadium. While playing one day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he committed an error. The fans began to ridicule him. He stood at second base, humiliated, while the fans jeered. Then, shortstop Pee Wee Reese came over and stood next to him. He put his arm around Jackie Robinson and faced the crowd. The fans grew quiet. Robinson later said that arm around his shoulder saved his career.


    Same story different version:  One example of friendship remains with me as vividly as the moment I first heard of it as a boy. In his first seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Jackie Robinson, the first black man to play Major League baseball, faced venom nearly everywhere he traveled--fastballs at his head, spikings on the bases, brutal epithets from the opposing dugouts and from the crowds. During one game in Boston, the taunts and racial slurs seemed to reach a peak. In the midst of this, another Dodger, a Southern white named Pee Wee Reese, called timeout. He walked from his position at shortstop toward Robinson at second base, put his arm around Robinson's shoulder, and stood there with him for what seemed like a long time. The gesture spoke more eloquently than the words: This man is my friend.

    Willie Morris in Parade.

    I would rather have speeches that are true than those which contain merely nice distinctions. Just as I would rather have friends who are wise than merely those who are handsome.

    Augustine, quoted by Richard Baxter in The Reformed Pastor.

    "A friend is one who warns you."

    Old Jewish proverb.

    Some people make enemies instead of friends because it is less trouble.

    E.C. McKenzie.

    Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, "What! You, too? I thought I was the only one."

    C.S. Lewis.

    Friends are like good health; you don't realize what a gift they are until you lose them.


    Prosperity begets friends, adversity proves them.


    A friend is a person who does his knocking before he enters instead of after he leaves.


    He who loves 50 has 50 woes. He who loves 10 has 10 woes. He who loves none has no woes.


    A small boy defined a friend as "Someone who knows all about you and likes you just the same."


    Our opinion of people depends less upon what we see in them than upon what they make us see in ourselves.

    Sarah Grand.

    Be slow in choosing a friend, slower in changing.

    B. Franklin.

    Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.



    1. When you are with people, be aware of their likes and dislikes.
    2. Remember friend's birthdays and anniversaries.
    3. Take interest in and cultivate relationships with your friend's children.
    4. Become need sensitive
    5. Keep in touch by phone.
    6. Express what you like about your relationship with another person.
    7. Serve your friends in thoughtful, unexpected ways.

    Common Ground, January, 1990.

    Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts, nor measure words, but to pour them all out just as they are, chaff and grain together knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.

    George Eliot, quoted in Today in the Word, July, 1989, p. 28.

    In our dealings with those caught in sexual lust, mercy is incomplete unless we do as Jesus did; call it sin. We have winked, giggled, made alibis, or ignored sin all too long. A friend in deed is one who says quietly, but firmly, "What you're doing friend is sin. It is harmful to you and to others. It is destructive to God's dream for you.


    Statistics and Research

    Leonard Syme, a professor of epidemiology at the University of California at Berkeley, indicates the importance of social ties and social support systems in relationship to mortality and disease rates. He points to Japan as being number one in the world with respect to health and then discusses the close social, cultural, and traditional ties in that country as the reason. He believes that the more social ties, the better the health and the lower the death rate. Conversely, he indicates that the more isolated the person, the poorer the health and the higher the death rate. Social ties are good preventative medicine for physical problems and for mental-emotional-behavior problems.

    Martin & Diedre Bobgan, How To Counsel From Scripture, Moody Press, 1985, p. 18.

    In a survey of more than 40,000 Americans said these qualities were most valued in a friend: 1. The ability to keep confidences  2. Loyalty  3. Warmth and affection.

    Psychology Today, quoted in Homemade, June, 1982.


    Around the corner I have a friend,
    In this great city that has no end.
    Yet days go by and weeks rush on,
    And before I know it a year is gone,
    And I never see my old friend's face;
    For life is a swift and terrible race.
    He knows I like him just as well
    As in the days when I rang his bell
    And he rang mine. We were younger then--
    And now we are busy, tired men--
    Tired with playing a foolish game;
    Tired with trying to make a name.
    "Tomorrow," I say, "I will call on Jim,
    Just to show that I'm thinking of him."
    But tomorrow comes--and tomorrow goes;
    And the distance between us grows and grows.
    Around the corner!--yet miles away...
    "Here's a telegram, sir."
    "Jim died today."
    And that's what we get--and deserve in the end--
    Around the corner, a vanished friend.

    Around The Corner, by Henson Towne.


    Two men were out hunting in the northern U.S. Suddenly one yelled and the other looked up to see a grizzly charging them. The first started to frantically put on his tennis shoes and his friend anxiously asked, "What are you doing? Don't you know you can't outrun a grizzly bear?" "I don't have to outrun a grizzly. I just have to outrun you!"


    Once I told my old man, 'Nobody likes me.' He said, 'Don't say that--everybody hasn't met you yet.'

    Rodney Dangerfield, I Don't Get No Respect.