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As Iron Sharpens Iron, or How to Be a Good Friend

Being corrected is not my favorite thing... 2/10, would not recommend. It is necessary though, for one to grow as a human being. A word from a loved one can hurt in the moment yet bring about healing in the long term. This piece is based on the concept found in Proverbs 27:17, "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."

Finding role models is something that comes to mind as I begin to write. I do not have a large group of friends, but the friends I do have, I chose because there are things about them I respect and want to emulate. All my friends are, in some way, role models. Some possess wisdom and grace; some are servants and coaches that exemplify determination; some are willing to share valuable life experiences and the knowledge that comes with living through tragedy; all of them accept me without condition.

Another important factor of iron sharpening iron is being willing to talk, honestly, about things you find scary, painful, or humiliating. Being open and trusting. There are no shortcuts to being vulnerable, no "hacks." Nothing makes it easier or less dangerous. It will, at one point or another, bite you in the ass. But the experience of having a true friend to go through life with, is to me one of the best parts of being alive. I can live and laugh with my friends, and when I cry, there are shoulders to lean on. We are not meant to go it alone. Friends help make my life worth living.

If role models, trust and vulnerability are pieces of the equation, what is the next? Accountability. You cannot be influenced by a friendship if you are not, in some way, accountable to that person. This is easier for me than being vulnerable, because all accountability requires from me is action on the counsel I receive from my friend. This does not mean I give my friends permission to be negative and critical about my failures in life (of which there are many), but that in my vulnerable moments, I ask from, and gift to my friends, feedback that is constructive and said in the most tactful way possible.

Listening without judgement is also needed and is perhaps the most vital part of this process. As humans, we often make kneejerk calls. It is imperative, being a good friend, that we listen to a complete story, then think carefully about how to respond. If we blurt out criticism without acceptance or forethought, we run a serious risk of harming those whom we love.

With that said, I admit I have yet a lot to learn about being a friend, but I have good friends to learn from. I am interested in your recipes for good friendships. If you wish, leave a comment in the appropriate section to share your thoughts. I look forward to reading them!

Joshua Wiebe

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