A few years after Mark and I were married I asked him what it was that drew him to me. His answer was not what I expected and caught me completely off guard. It was not my charm and good looks (ha!) but my loyalty. I’m not sure who or what I was demonstrating such loyalty to but I will never forget this response. Since that day, I’ve realized just how attractive loyalty is and have tried to live up to whatever it is he sees in me.
It’s easy to see how loyalty is important in marriage as it implies fidelity. Just as my husband trusts me, I trust him. I never worry about what he’s doing or how he’s behaving when we’re apart. His character is strong, and I know the Mark that I interact with at home is the same Mark that others interact with when he’s not home. He is an honest man. He is faithful. I trust him completely. He is a good friend to me.
As I look back over my life, there are so many people that I wish I hadn’t lost touch with. There are high school friends that I haven’t spoken with since graduation. There are college friends that I left behind when I switched schools. There are friends that filled in the spaces and walked me through tough times that I don’t have contact with today. Sometimes I dream about them. It’s as if I’m haunted by my own shortcomings in letting these relationships drop.
I’m thankful for the wisdom of those who have a better understanding of how friendship works. Their words and examples teach me. One such person, whom I’d like to tell you a little about, has taught me a lot about friendship and how to love the people in your life.
I’ve known this person for a long time, since I was 12, in fact. She’s seen me through what I’ll call my “character forming years” because from the time I was 12 until I got married at 24, a lot of who I am today was shaped. I had some really great years but I also made some pretty bad choices. There was a time when I was in such turmoil that I’d cry until I gagged. I didn’t always know what the right thing to do was. I didn’t know how to carry on.
I don’t like feeling smothered or guilted into something, and if I’m starting to sense those vibes my walls instantly go up. I’m better at dealing with these feelings now but in those dark moments of my past, I held everyone at a distance. But this friend, she wouldn’t pressure me to talk. She would give me a hug, tell me she was glad to see me, and let the rest drop. Anything I told her was kept in the strictest confidence, and the things she knew by observation were never used against me in conversation with other people. When I came out the other side, she never brought up my mistakes and struggles. She welcomed me back.
This taught me three important things about relationships.
- A genuine and warm reception can go a long way.
- Sometimes you say more by not talking.
- You will never go wrong if you hold your tongue and keep someone’s confidence.
I am not always the best at pursuing people. My own checklist sometimes acts as a blinder so I don’t even realize when I’m neglecting relationships. But for the relationships that have already stood the test of time, and for those that I’m currently developing into a deeper relationship, I want this to be said of me: More than anything, I want them to know I’ve got their back. I want them to know that I am and will remain loyal.
Proverbs 17:17 says it just right, “A friend loves at all times.” In the dark, in the light, in the good, and in the bad, a real friend is loyal. She’s not blind to your faults and intervenes with truth when necessary, but she’s warm and welcoming just the same. Thank God for faithful friends!
What friend needs your loyalty today?