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Being There
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What is the real test of friendship? For me, who is befriended, and for me as one who befriends, I’ve found the answer: being there. And there are many ways of being there for someone other than in your actual body.

My friends are scattered all over the continental United States and some in foreign countries. There’s no way that we all can be there in-person for each other. However, real friends know how to make it happen in the essence of what I call absent-presence. Sounds like a dichotomy doesn’t it? Yet where long-distance friendships used to require hand-written letters and telephone calls, we now have all sort of technology that gives us an instant presence even if we’re absent in the flesh. Every day, I’m amazed about this instantaneous contact with other human beings.

I recently received an e-letter from a friend who needed to release her emotions. She’s one who gives of herself until it hurts, only she doesn’t think of it as that. But what she shared reveals the hurt.

She agonizes over the frail people she takes under her wing—and into her heart. Some of those needy folks betray her kindness. Yet it doesn’t stop her from enlarging the rooms of her heart. She has found the way to friendship through the path of simplicity more than anything with a being-there ministry, either in person or from thousands of miles away. She knows how to help in any circumstance. Often it’s simply by giving wise advice. She holds her friend’s hands from any distance.

Important Ingredient of Happiness

Though many teachings of the Greek philosopher Epicurus are precarious, his teachings about the importance of friendship are commendable. He advised, “It’s not so much our friend’s help that helps us as the confident knowledge that they will help us.” Epicurus emphasized friendship as an important ingredient of happiness.

I don’t know who wrote this quote, but I treasure it, “Friend are branches that we add to our family tree.” When I read it in a magazine, with no by-line, it drew me back to a long-ago day when a dear friend’s husband, in his 50s, suddenly passed away. After I prayed with her in the hospital, her daughter said, “We can’t choose our family members, but we can choose our friends.” The daughter was grateful that her mother had a friend who was there for her. We had added each other as branches on our family tree, hadn’t we?

May we each be there for our friends in both joyous and troublous times such as when Jonathan pronounced to his dear friend David, “The Lord will be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants forever.” (1 Samuel 20:42).

Yes, it’s being there, being like family.

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By Betty Kossick. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®.

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