The Invisible Nature of Enduring Friendship

Hands and coffee cups

As a young boy, I used to wonder about what I now call “the invisible nature of enduring friendship.” How do we pick our friends, and how do they pick us? What is it exactly that “makes us friends?” Sure, there’s the obvious things; common interests, similar personalities or circumstances, or complementary goals. Yet, what are those invisible or intangible qualities that make a person a dear friend, a revered friend, a life-long, I’ll-do-anything-for-you friend? What allows friendships to endure difficulties, debate, indifference, or prolonged separation?

I have friends I’ve been separated from for years, even decades, but if you put us in the same room for ten minutes, we’re back to where we were before the separation. Why is that? 

I relish friendship and what each friend uniquely brings to our relationship. For example, there’s Dave, whose wise counsel guided me through my wife’s serious car accident, he officiated my oldest son’s wedding, stood beside me during my father’s battle with Alzheimer’s, performed by father’s eventual funeral, and consistently challenges me to be the best writer I can be. Who does that?

"Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life. Many might have failed beneath the bitterness of their trial had they not found a friend."

                                    Charles Spurgeon

Jon was there in my college years to help me transition to a different university, meet new friends, and assimilate into the college culture. He fueled my faith in God, stood up for me in my wedding, and has had my back for 45 years.

I got a front row seat to witness patience, and a commanding sense of calm from Dan, my college roommate. His ever-thoughtful responses, coupled with keen insights, made him my unfailing friend and a popular physician.

I met Mike as we both prepared for our weddings and competed for the same wedding date on the church calendar. He got the date I wanted. I got even by moving my wedding date up on the calendar, so I’ve been married a month longer. When I attended his wedding, I was moved by how emotional he was as he expressed his hand-written marriage vows. Now, 40 years later, his marriage remains one of the most inspiring I have ever known.

Friends are often loyal—some are fiercely loyal. That’s Michelle. The friend you can count on—anytime. I worked with, and for, Michelle—and a funny thing happened—when she was promoted, she never changed. No pretense. High position never changed her. Her life reminds me of what it means to be authentic. It’s nice to have a friend you can trust. Really trust. 

In this life, I thrive on words of affirmation—and Lisa always delivers them. She is the great encourager. Every phone call to simply catch up is sprinkled with spirit-lifting words to bolster my faith in myself and keep me moving—forward.

In Ron, I have never witnessed so much kindness and generosity in one person. He hired me out of college and gave me my first shot. Unknowingly, he became a life-enriching role model and unsuspecting mentor that was equally committed to launching my career, while shaping my life—for good.

And then there’s Karen, my wife of now 40 years. I could write a book on her. Suffice it to say, she is the most unselfish and inspirational person I have ever met—and the easiest person to love.

It’s been said that “There are not many things in life so beautiful as true friendship, and there are not many things more uncommon.”

I still don’t fully understand “the invisible nature of friendship.” What I do understand is deep friendships are a gift. An enduring gift.


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