I was thinking again of how blessed I am by the friendships I share around the globe. Each one is different, special, and often, specifically designed for a particular period in my life. However, a recent event made me ponder what exactly friendship is. And while it is not a composite definition, I have two analogies that encompass much of what I believe to be the definition of true friendship.
1. Happy Despite
I watched, this past, brisk Saturday morning, as the community youth soccer league held its kindergarten game. A stampede of miniatures clumped from this end of the field to that. There was a point, however, when one little girl broke away from the pack, and ran full force to the opposing goal. Living in this small town, I happened to know the little girl and the goalie that she was coming up against. They are the best of friends. Hannah, we’ll call her, was running, unopposed, toward her best friend Emily in goal. This is one of those difficult situations for young friends. I’ve seen numerous parents giving pep talks and coaching lessons to tear streaked faces after situations just like this. How do you handle being on opposing teams gracefully and fairly? But I believe that these two girls have a wisdom and a bond beyond their years. As Hannah sprinted toward Emily in the goal, Emily was overcome with happiness for her dear friend. Elated, she stepped out of the goalie box and yelled, “Go, Hannah! Go!” Her hands moving from her cheeks to her knees and back again. She watched, overjoyed, as her friend scored against not just her team, but herself. Friendship is being happy for your friend, despite any penalty to self.
2. Loving in Sadness.
The second is a personal example, and comes with a bit of a spoiler alert. This past fall I went to see the Mockingjay movie, the second installment of The Hunger Games novels. I am an extreme fan of the novels, and have read each book at least twice. My friend, Kristen, had not read the books, but had seen the first movie. Here is where the spoiler alert comes in. If you haven’t read the books or seen the movies, uh, go, read, see, and also stop reading this point in the blog, bookmark, and don’t come back until you do. But really, this is my, both hands waving above head frantically, warning that I’m giving away some of the storyline. Kristen and I, having seen the first movie together, both had our favorite characters, and hers was Cinna, Katniss’ designer. Going into the Mockingjay movie, I did not want to spoil anything for Kristen, but knew the time was coming when Cinna would be beaten to death. At that point I reached over and gently squeezed my friend’s hand. From the corner of my eye I saw her glance over at me and whisper, “No.” I had already faced the sadness that was coming, and knew there was nothing I could do to stop it from reaching my friend. Instead, I sat quietly in the dark, hand in hand with my friend, and confronted the sadness with her.
While these examples are not ground breaking, earth shattering, life changing tales. They are, I believe, beautiful analogies of what selfless friendship can be. And I am thankful to bare witness to these accounts and many more.