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Category: Free to Choose

Choosing Friends and Being a Friend

June 28, 2023

At a recent meeting with our Big Ocean Women communication team, Emily asked, “What is a choice you made in your life that greatly influenced your life trajectory?” The first member to respond said, a bit apologetically, that it was a small thing–she stepped away from friends that were good people, but were not making choices with which she was comfortable. This led her to connect with a new group of friends that included her current husband. 

As each of us took our turn answering Emily’s question, we learned we had all experienced something similar in our school years that led to friends who were key influencers of our lives today. So, we decided that choosing good friends is critical to long-term happiness. 

My “friend experience” was similar to the one already shared. I skipped a grade in school and struggled to figure out if I belonged with the group of girls my age or the group in my current school class. I was rather awkward, not at all socially adept. I was, however, fairly confident academically and formed a bond with one of the girls who was in several of my classes, simply discussing homework or questions about assignments. Sometimes we called each other and continued our discussion outside of school. I will never forget the day at the Dairy Queen when I was visiting with her and her friends, but hung back when they stood up to leave. This now life-long friend saw me lagging behind and called out, “Norma, are you coming?” So I came and eventually bonded with this group of girls who have backed me up and had my back ever since.

So, our first friend chose good friends and was warmly welcomed. In my case, someone offered to BE my friend, opening a door to warm friendships. Our tenet this month teaches that we are free to choose, but obviously we can’t force others to be our friend if they choose not to. If that’s the case, please keep looking for friends like my younger self–those who need friends, but aren’t sure how to find them. I have often shared this story with my children and grandchildren, encouraging them to change a life by offering to include someone who seems outside of their current social circles. 

Another way we can choose to be friends is in our global family. Recently, we witnessed choices made at a busy intersection that definitely made a difference in at least three people’s day. As we approached the intersection and got in line behind cars headed the same direction as we were, we waited for a rather long red light. The light turned green, but our lane of traffic stood still. We couldn’t see the problem, but assumed that someone ahead of us was having car trouble. Three people made three different choices:

  1. The person behind us honked loudly as if that would fix the problem.
  2. We waited for the opportunity to change lanes to avoid further delay.
  3. The man in front of us pulled his truck behind the stalled vehicle and put on his flashers.

As we waited through another light, we were adjacent to the man who was repeatedly trying to start his aging vehicle which displayed a handicapped parking tag. He looked desperate, but we didn’t know what we could do in the middle of all the traffic. Friend #3, the global friend with the flashers, had no such dilemma. He got out of his truck, spoke to the man in the stalled vehicle, then single handedly pushed him through the intersection and around the corner until his car started! We waved and thanked him, but it was evident from his beaming countenance that being able to help someone in need was thanks enough for him. He chose to help and then willingly accepted the responsibility of the choice he made.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to try harder to choose to be such a friend. Not only do I want to refrain from honking my horn to call attention to others’ problems or fears, I want to do more than simply avert my eyes and try not to add to their pain. I want to be ready to turn on my flashers, share my time and concern, and be a friend–even if it’s not convenient or comfortable. I invite you to choose good friends and to be a friend to all and experience the wonderful consequences that are sure to follow.