‘You’ve got a friend in me
You’ve got a friend in me
If you’ve got troubles, I’ve got ’em too
There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you
We stick together and can see it through
Cause you’ve got a friend in me’
(Lyrics excerpt from ‘You’ve Got a Friend in me’ by Randy Newman)
If you have read my ‘About’ page, you will know I mentioned about having great friends (if you haven’t, now is the time to redeem yourself. Go on; click, read and come back).
As a teenager, I, as many of us were, was bombarded with advice about choosing ‘good friends’ and staying away from ‘bad friends’ by my parents, uncles and aunts, older neighbours and of course, the self-proclaimed advisers (in Nigeria, we refer to this category as ‘Busybody’ pronounced as ‘Bizi bodee’).
These people proceed to assess, laser-scan and even investigate (ask a brother/sister in our church who happens to know a neighbour to the brother of the parent of the child. Mmhmm! there is no hiding place for the wicked I tell you!). You may also get the occasional “If I catch you” phrase. Now when a Nigerian parent uses that phrase, you had better be listening; for those of you who do not understand, this is the superlative of the warning, “If I see you”.
Then when you get to your twenties, everyone, including the busy bodies stop bothering about your friends and begin to give career advice. I guess it’s because, at this point, you are expected to know better about choosing your friends.
Sadly, for most us, that is just not true! You see, it is my opinion that while we should love everyone UNCONDITIONALLY, we should, however, choose our friends WISELY.
Everyone we meet comes with their own baggage and we need, I mean really, need to decide if that baggage is something that we can carry. Now, you all already know I am a church girl so I am just going to go gospel up in here.
“Become wise by walking with the wise;
hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces” – Book of Proverbs chapter 13 verse 20.
(Proverbs is after Psalms and before Ecclesiastes in the bible. I agree! ‘Ecclesiastes’ is a mouthful)
I used to have this ‘friend’. She was a nice lady and we met in church, so one commonality checked. We hung out a few times to catch up and chat. She just happens to be full of sob stories as there is always some unfortunate event that has happened, is happening or will happen in her life. Do not get me wrong, friendship is about sharing our troubles and encouraging each other (horizontal). It’s just also about BUILDING each other up (vertical/forward looking). And I wasn’t feeling built-up from our conversations so the next time she called to meet, I just responded, “sorry I can’t make it.” We keep in touch every now and then.
My mother is a sharp woman! She used to tell me, “there is mixed multitude of people everywhere, even in church. So, whenever you go in, keep your eyes open!”
Now, here are my personal checkers for choosing friends:
- Do we share similar values?
- Do they practice what they preach? (this one you need to watch out for)
- Are they striving for something more? (I am intensely allergic to passivity. Oh! Just so you understand, just clocking in at your regular 9-5 or attending church, in my opinion, isn’t striving).
- Do they have a CAN-DO attitude?
- How do I feel after being with them?
- Better – possible friend (try again)
- So-so – acquaintance (there is hope)
- Worse off – fool (run for your life!)
- You cannot decide – (girl, you need Jesus!)
So, whenever i go to work, church, party, or a fashion show at Milan (I wish!), I apply my checkers. An important point to note is that choosing friends involves an investment called ‘Time’. So, take the time to get to know people, with your advanced goggles of checkers on of course! Now, don’t go hanging out with some fool for 5 years and turn around to say ‘Sista Seiz told me to invest time.’ You are on your own with that one!
I believe we are all called to love and respect everyone. The call of friendship, however, is very specific.
Bottom line… Choose your friends wisely. It matters!