Do not discard an old friend

Special to the Herald-Guide
June 13, 2014 at 9:43 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

By "Deacon G"

What separates “old friends” from a new friend or acquaintance? What is it that earns them the revered title of “old friend?” Certainly it’s not just their age.

With most new friends or acquaintances, we are yet to develop a relationship that brings us a comfort level in our dealings with one another. We have to feel each other out.

We need time to get to know them, their mannerisms, likes, dislikes and feelings about the little part of the world that we share with them. We need to accept them for who they are and they need to reciprocate. There is one situation where a new friend can become an “old friend” almost instantaneously, unfortunately it usually requires an accident or disaster for that to occur.

Old friends are so recognized because of the shared experiences which bind them in an invisible manner to us. Sometimes the experience may have been acquired over a continuous period of time sharing a common goal, such as grade school or high school buddies. Other times, it may have been someone who came into our life for a short period of time and either a unique bond was formed because we were able to do something that helped ease their pain, they were able to ease ours, or we were able to help each other. It could have been helping each other cope with a common disaster, such as the aftermath of Katrina or a nurse came into our lives and helped us while a loved one was going through a serious illness or life-ending sickness.

The true depth of our friendship is to what extent we can say anything we want in front of or to this person. We must be free to express deep feelings, concerns, needs, or praise without fear of being judged.

These friendships, rarely die, even when natural separation occurs. People’s lives cause them to go in different directions and they may not even see or talk to each other for many years. Sometimes the desire to be reunited is so strong that one party takes the time to seek out the other.

When these friends are reunited, it’s almost as if they had never been apart. They hug, embrace each other, or perhaps kiss. There is a joy that is palpable. They can’t wait to talk about “old times” and to bring each other up-to-date since they last saw each other.

This “welcome back old friend” feeling is the same feeling people tell me they get when they finally bring Christ back into their lives. As children they made him their friend.

They remember singing “Jesus loves the little children” and going to Church on Sunday. They remember praying to him for help on school tests, help in finding a career or perhaps a spouse, but somewhere along the way they became separated. Fortunately, at some point they were happily reunited.

Sometimes they met him on a chance occurrence, such as being in a serious accident yet being spared injury; or they sought him out because they had a need, such as a job, and remembered who they turned to long ago; or perhaps they experienced a joy, such as the birth of a child, and remembered that this was a gift from an “old friend.”

So if we want to experience that special warmth of the touch or the sound of the voice of an old friend, and don’t want to wait for the development of a new one, we shouldn’t be afraid to seek him out, particularly if his name is Jesus.Remember, “Discard not an old friend, for the new one cannot equal him. A new friend is like wine which you drink with pleasure only when it is aged.” (Sirach 9:10)

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