Friendships that last
There is a saying about friendship, “If you want to find out who’s a true friend, screw up, then see who sticks around.” I don’t know who said this originally, but if I had to guess, I’d guess it was either someone who went to prison or a family member of a prisoner.
Nothing separates acquaintances from friends faster than someone going to prison. Once a person goes to prison, people scatter (read my blog on this). Perhaps some disappear because they do not know how to adjust to the changes prison brings to every relationship. Others may disappear because the connection was to the person who went to prison, so there is no compelling pull to continue the relationship with the family. Sadly, most drift away due to the stigma and their choice to walk away rather than to walk with someone in the midst of the devastation. They are the ones who would rather talk about you than talk to you.
It is awful to lose friends on the heels of losing your husband to prison!
The betrayal and pain of watching friends disappear just adds to the grief and loss you are already experiencing. At first, I took this personally. Ok, it probably was personal. But it made me so angry and made it even harder to heal and move forward with my life. I felt so STUCK in my pain and rejection. I let myself believe that I must be a terrible person if my own friends wouldn’t even speak to me. It made me second-guess every decision I made. I tried to reconnect with them and prove to them that I was deserving of their time and friendship. I soon realized that it was not me, it was them. Their decision to walk away from me was not an indication of my worthiness, it was a reflection of their character and ignorance.
There is such a lack of understanding about the impact prison makes on the family who is left behind. Friends and family lack the skill they need to help rebuild the broken lives and restore health to the now shattered family. Instead, many used-to-be-friends cross over to become haters, bigots, and prejudiced people. They walk away from the friendship and spread poison and gossip, or they develop conditions around their friendship to control you. This is not true friendship. This is evidence of their own insecurities, fear, and judgmental hearts. The betrayal stings, but you must not let their opinions define your decisions (read “What do I do now?).
True friends don’t abandon you when life gets tough.
When you mess up, or when you don’t live up to their expectations. Euripedes said, “Friends show their love in times of trouble, not in happiness.” Real friends roll up their sleeves and get comfortable next to you for the long haul. They find ways to offer hope and help. A true friend will offer encouragement when you are down, laugh with you, and cry for you when you run out of tears. They don’t hang around just to get the latest scoop to post on FB, or the most embarrassing photo so they can SnapChat it or post it to Instagram. They are not going to run away when you stumble or fall down. They walk with you, provide support and accountability to ensure that you overcome the adversity. They experience it with you so you don’t have to do it alone.
As you look around at the people in your life, I hope you are seeing true friends next to you. Here is a quiz to help you know if you have a true-blue friend in your corner or if you need to cut ties and move on.
Answer the questions below using this point system: Yes (1) ,Sometimes (2), or No (3)
- Do they listen at least as much as they talk?
- Do they share their struggles with you too?
- Is your name safe in their mouth? (Do they only say good things about you whether you can hear them or not?)
- Do they talk you OUT OF doing things that will hurt your reputation or your family?
- Do you feel empowered and loved after spending time with them?
- Do they help you manage your fear and anger?
- Can you count on them in an emergency?
- Do they encourage you to develop goals?
- Do they help you meet your goals?
- Do you trust them to give you good advice?
Add up all of the points from your answers and check your results below:
10-13 = True Friend!
This one is a keeper. Be sure to let your friend know how much you appreciate their friendship and support. Someday, it will be your turn to be there for them, and you need to be ready to help them when they need you too.
14-17 = Good Friend!
This friend will bring you a meal if you are sick, stop by to visit you when they are in the neighborhood, and let you know they are thinking of you. They will be happy to help when they can, but they will also not be available 24/7/365. They are still a keeper!
17-20 = Casual Friend.
This person likes you, but isn’t going to be inconvenienced for you. They may be too busy, too far away, or just not interested in getting too close.
20-23 = Acquaintance.
We have a lot of these in our lives. These are people who are nice to us, but are not really connected to our lives. They are like the mailman, you want to keep a positive relationship with him, but he is mostly a stranger who just stops by your house to do his job.
24+ = Not your friend.
It’s time to cut this one loose and concentrate on investing in other relationships. You have limited time and energy, so choose wisely where you will spend it.
If you don’t have a true-blue friend, take some time to think about how you can be that kind of friend to someone else. As you invest in another’s life, you will gain a deeper friendship as well.
Choose your friends wisely. Remember the saying, “Show me your friends, and I will show you your future.” – it is true.
I am rooting for you.
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