If you have been following us in the past few weeks, the subject of “frenemies” would not be strange and so I thought to bring a different angle to the whole matter. Someone has rightly said that the existence of a “fake” means that there is an “original”. So the presence of frenemies should not make us bitter as it actually reminds us of the fact that there are also true friends . It is very possible to experience real friendship but we should be ready to do the work .
I’ve often pondered on the meaning of this saying “A friend in need is a friend indeed”. There’s something about it that seems incomplete, thus giving room for a variety of interpretations. I had to carry out a little research and sure enough, there is more than one meaning to this saying. The first school of thought (which I tend to subscribe to) sees it to mean that a friend who comes to your aid (in deed) when you are in need, is a true friend. The other school of thought sees ‘A friend who is in need, becomes especially friendly in order to obtain help’. There are more interpretations of this saying, but these two stand out and I’m sure we can see how both sides have a valid argument as we, or someone we know, must have played the part of the friend in Scene one or scene two, at some point in this journey of life. The word friend is mentioned twice in both cases; one friend receiving and the other giving.
I was brought up on the Bible verse which says it is more blessed to give than to receive, so I consciously check that I am on the giving end more often than receiving. That might explain why I scored top marks in ‘Acts of service’ on the Love Language test. I marked a birthday some years and it was a really special day. Firstly, because if you are privileged to mark a birthday especially after the Pandemic, there is a need to celebrate! But it was also special because I got a lot of heart-warming text messages and calls from many unexpected people.
One text in particular really warmed my heart. It was from a friend (let’s call her Becky) I met in secondary school. Here’s what she wrote:
Happy birthday my dearest sister and friend. Your godly virtues, selflessness, humility and deep sense of commitment to core values first endeared me to you in high school so many years ago. You were always outstanding. I still remember the ways you touched my life; you received me then as the assistant class captain SS1D and practically copied all my notes. You invited me to FCS (Fellowship of Christian Students) and encouraged me to join a unit. You were always plaiting my hair and ensuring that I looked good. Thank you for all these and more…I celebrate you on this your special day and wish you the choicest things of life, may your light shine, shine brightly and never go dim in Jesus name, Amen.
Let me break it down a bit. Becky joined our school in SS1, meaning she joined our set (school year) three years after the rest of us. Apparently, we had met three years earlier outside school but I really didn’t remember who she was. Breaking into any click is not easy, and having been the outsider a few times in my life, I do what I can to help people fit in as quickly as possible. I had two really close friends in High School and Becky was one of them. Becky was a bit quiet but confident in herself. I don’t remember copying her notes but it sounds like something a very practical person like myself would do. I don’t remember asking her to commit to the fellowship but I guess it happened. However, I do remember plaiting her hair!
Getting your hair done was not an easy task for those of us that were not too popular or posh. The person who had helped with my hair in the previous year had left our school. I still miss Ini Bala – that girl could catch any type of hair and make the hair look great, as well as help it grow (most of us came in with low cuts). Ini had to leave our school to be closer home and I had to look for a new hair-dresser. I eventually found a plaiting-partner as I had picked up some quick skills in order to survive. Becky had long beautiful hair. Long hair was a big deal in high school, but somehow her hair didn’t attract the attention of all the school renowned hair-plaiters. She had some junior friends who helped with her hair but I was not happy with the outcome. So, one day I told Becky that I would do her hair until we graduated from secondary school. My skills were really not that great but I knew I could do better than the junior girls, and that was it. I invented so many styles on Becky’s head and it was interesting to see the ones that worked. People began to notice her hair, but I refused to touch any other person’s hair – to be honest I didn’t have the time, but it was nice to be asked though.
This happened more than twenty years ago, and when I saw her message on my birthday this year, it got me thinking about the kind of friend I am to people. There are times when I have questioned my motives for being friendly…when I wonder if I have unconsciously slipped into scene two, being friendly because I want to obtain something…like respect, or just to remain in the superior position, you know, kind of like the borrower always being a servant to the lender… hmmm. Don’t get me wrong, it is right to be nice to someone if you want that person’s help; but if you make that a lifestyle by which you are defined – that’s just not cool.
What kind of friend would I remembered as? You’ve probably heard this many times this year but it is worth re-iterating that it is a privilege to be counted among the living this year as many great and wonderful people have passed on in 2022. Many tributes have been written and sung, and I found myself listening to how the people within their inner circle described them. From the names that flooded the airwaves to the unsung heroes, people had a lot to say. I lost a dear friend in the year the pandemic started. In the years I knew her, I can’t recall doing anything for her, but she did a lot for me just by being herself. She let her light shine, so brightly, that I was encouraged to shine as well, and even though she is chilling with friends in high places right now, I still feel the need to shine because she shone.
What kind of friend would you be remembered as? Would it be as a Frenemy, the friend in need, or the friend indeed? Becky put a huge smile on my face as I read her words. I have not set eyes on her since we left high school many years ago. We lost touch for a while but thanks to our high school WhatsApp group, we connected again and our friendship has continued. Whatever you do or say, or however you express love and care to those around you, make it count. Be real. Not a frenemy. Be the Friend indeed (in Deed).
Just being me