“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” This is a favorite Bible verse that is used in many weddings. We typically think of it in terms of romantic love. But it recently came to my attention this could also be thought of in terms of friendship. A friend of mine has a special needs child. They were recently at the park together when another child tried to engage her son in conversation. Her son would not engage, and the mother was in a quandary as to how to handle the situation. Should she intervene and tell the other child that her son was a bit shy around others or should she let them work it out taking a risk that the other child would lose interest, setting the pattern for the friendships in her son’s life? As we have discussed in previous articles, children are very accepting. If they are interested enough in someone or something they will persist until their goal has been achieved. Children don’t judge, they are patient. It does not matter to a child what others’ past wrongs have been; all they are concerned with is the immediate present. And while trying to get another child to speak to them, they will talk seemingly to themselves until the other child finds himself responding, sometimes without even realizing it. And thus, a friendship is formed.
Let’s pretend for a moment that the person in front of us has a clean slate, they never made a bad decision or said anything to hurt anyone. That person would become everyone’s friend, right? But, what if the person in front of us has made some bad decisions and said some pretty hurtful things in the past—so what? That person could be the best friend we ever had if we would just give them a chance. And who are we to judge? Is our slate clean? Be patient, and be kind. Don’t envy or boast. Don’t be rude or self-seeking. Be even tempered and don’t keep score. Rejoice in the truth of your friend, for they are like no other. Always protect, trust, hope and persevere. Do these things and your love and friendship cannot fail!