Old Friends, Best Friends

UW-Whitewater Iconic Photo--30%


I once read a quote that said “old friends are the best friends.” We could argue that either way. But I think the source was trying to say, while we all love making new friends, there is something special about old friends.

Today, as I write this post, I let my mind ponder the essence of friendship. Have you ever consciously thought about what creates friendship? Or what makes one friend closer than another? And why do certain friendships endure—despite separation by time and distance? Have you ever considered why it is so effortless to reconnect with some friends in only five minutes—even after fifteen years of being apart?

I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I’ve noticed at least three things give friendships the potential to achieve longevity.

COMMONALITY—Obviously, every friendship begins with having something in common. An interest, a talent, a circumstance, an outlook. It draws us together and unites us.

COMPATIBILITY—Personality, temperament, values, and mindset align and allow us to view life from the same page.

COMMITMENT—Lasting friendships share a mutual commitment to the relationship—regardless of time and distance barriers.

I recently received a blog on friendship written by Russell Moore. (And yes, one of my closest friends, Dan—forwarded it to me.) In his blog, Moore highlights nuances between new and old friends.

“When you tell something of your story to a new friend, you are saying something akin to ‘Here’s who I am. What about you?’ When we spend time with old friends and tell remembered stories, we’re doing something different. We aren’t communicating information; we’re reliving our experiences. We’re saying things like ‘Can you believe we got to see that?’ or ‘Can you believe we survived that?’ or ‘Don’t you miss that?’ or ‘Aren’t you glad that’s over?’

“It’s just another way of knowing one another—and of being known.”

And isn’t that the goal of any meaningful friendship—knowing one another and being known?

My friend Jon once said, “Our friendship is more than a few common experiences—it’s shared history.” It occurs to me next year it will be fifty years of shared history.

To me, that’s the beauty of old friendships—shared history.

In his blog, Russell Moore went on to say, “For those of you who have ever moved as a child, your mom was right when she said, ‘You’ll make new friends.’ Still, what you knew then—and, deep down, you still know now—is that you can’t replace old friends.”

“You can’t make old friends.”

I’m grateful for the friends that came into my life because they have enriched it by challenging me, encouraging me, pushing me, stretching me, affirming me, and motivating me to make my life count.

May I take a moment to say thank you to Jon from Door County, who taught me how to live a life of faith in God? Dan from Baraboo, my college roommate and retired physician, who modeled humility for me, despite being one of the smartest people I have ever known. (A few years ago, Dan and I started visiting our college campus every spring because that is where our friendship began. We also meet there to recall past blessings and talk about the future, including our friendship. Not bad for graduating 48 years ago.) SEE PHOTO ABOVE.

To Dave, a pastor from Kenosha, many thanks for officiating my oldest son’s wedding, the burial of my father and father-in-law, helping launch my advertising business and now my novels, and meeting me for lunch twice a month for over thirty years. Where would I be without your wise counsel? Ron from Racine, my first boss out of college. I’m not sure there could be a better example of kindness and professionalism. (Ron, I’ve tried to emulate your example throughout my 43-year marketing career.)

To Tom from Kenosha, my second boss, who challenged my writing, made me a better writer, and lives a life of integrity. Michelle from New Berlin, a colleague, boss, and friend—thanks for your energy, support, and incredible loyalty to me and my goals. Lisa from Cleveland, a colleague, for your commitment to keeping our friendship alive through consistent communication. Mike from Pittsburgh, you have been a fine role model of a rock-solid marriage.

And to Bob from Racine, thanks for teaching me what courage looks like when fighting cancer—and winning. Finally, to Debbie from Racine, my last boss who hired me as a career transition consultation to help people find new careers after my previous job was eliminated. Thanks for believing in me and my skills to help others.

I love new friendships. But the old ones, the ones that have grown up together with a shared history--including pain, disappointments, joy, and celebrations--are sacred.

It seems true. Old friends, best friends.


SOMETHING TO CHEW ON: When was the last time you thanked a friend—for simply being your friend? Have you ever told them why you value their friendship? Watch what happens to the friendship when you do.

Tell them today.


PHOTO ABOVE: My old college friends: (L-R): Jon Beggs, Yours Truly, Dan Sessler (college roommate), and Dave Brusko at the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater. Circa, 1975.


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