A Treasure Found, a Lesson Learned
Writings of long ago make clear why forever friends are so invaluable.
After the death of my father, I returned to the city of my youth to sort through accumulated belongings in our old family home. To my surprise, I discovered my high school journal, written when I was between fifteen and eighteen years old. It had been unopened for decades. Nevertheless, considering the maturity level of its author, I doubted my journal contained any profound soul-searching amid my teenage angst. Nor did I expect it to unravel any great mysteries of the human condition. In short, the publishers of Anne Frank’s insightful diary need not worry!
I was surprised to find that my perusal through these passages of my adolescent self—now with sixty-year-old eyes—became an unexpected sacred experience. Apart from the nostalgia in reliving such occasions as selecting my first car or attending my first homecoming dance, reading this newfound journal after more than forty years is like an unfinished take-home assignment on the invaluable lessons of long-lasting friendships.
In hindsight, when my close classmates and I inscribed “friends forever” in each other’s yearbooks, could we have predicted that we’d still be one another’s primary support group to this day? Inevitably, some members in our tight circle allowed distance—physical or otherwise—to take us in different directions after graduation, while others in the group would go so far as to turn their friendships into romance and marriage.
Years later, history would even repeat itself when the children of my classmates attended the same Catholic high school—although forming friendships between them wasn’t a foregone conclusion simply because their parents are close friends. Neither is it a guarantee that sharing a mutual experience—like enduring growing pains together during the formative years of high school—automatically leads to bonds that last.
On the other hand, an environment where people are practically inseparable for an extended period of time does establish a firm foundation for a “friends forever” likelihood. Indeed, the remarkable amount of time my friends and I spent together on- and off-campus was most striking in my journal entries!
For example, my friends Elizabeth, Alfred, and I had all six hours of classes together in our sophomore year. Likewise, in my junior year, I got out of Advanced Math so I could be with my friends in World History. (Mystery solved: Having never advanced beyond basic algebra, now I know why I’m not an engineer!)
Another entry records a dilemma when my family members were planning to leave for Galveston Island on the Gulf Coast of Texas: “I would like to go with them, but Mandie’s party on Saturday is holding me back,” I wrote. A follow-up comment I penned a few days later reveals I ultimately opted for the party with friends instead of the beach vacation with family.
My long-hidden journal’s “secret” to the longevity of friendship goes beyond a group of peers who share history, inside jokes, relatively like-minded opinions, and personalities with similarities and differences. Rather, its recordings collectively illustrate that the formula for any lasting friendship is the ability to bring out the best in each other so that, over time, we not only become a better version of ourselves, but extensions of one another.
That’s the lesson this sexagenarian—with more wrinkles and less acne—would have liked to assure his juvenile journal-writing self: You will grow old in the company of these dependable companions, and they will help form you into a far better Christian and human being than you will ever be without them!
This sacred season of sharing and gratitude is the perfect time to thank God for the gift of friendship.
Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter;
whoever finds one finds a treasure.
Faithful friends are beyond price,
no amount can balance their worth.
Faithful friends are life-saving medicine;
those who fear God will find them.