According to Socrates, “There is no possession more valuable than a good and faithful friend.” But what is it that makes a good and faithful friend? Obviously good friends are loving; that almost goes without saying. But there is more to it than that. I know from my own personal experience that good friends are rare, but worth seeking out. I also know that every person is unique and no two people are alike. There is no ‘good-and-faithful-friend’ mold. However, there are a few key qualities that every truly good friend has.
First and foremost, a good friend is genuine. They are honest and sincere, no matter who is around or what you’re doing. An experience I had with a careless friend was that she was sincere when it was just the two of us, but tended to ignore me, or even be unkind to me when people she cared more about impressing were around. Another quality of a genuine friend is that they take a sincere interest in you, what you say, your life, and how you’re doing. They don’t just tell you all about what they’re doing and what they think, but make sure to pay special attention to your thoughts and feelings. They don’t interrupt, and they don’t just listen; they also consider what you have to say. I’m often the kind of friend who likes to hear about myself too much; even when I am truly interested in the person I’m talking to. A genuine friend knows when to be silent, brutally honest, or simply kind. If you ask a good friend if you look ok, they’ll probably say yes even if you look terrible because they don’t care what you look like, and they don’t want to hurt your feelings. But a true friend, in ordinary circumstances (where no one is in danger), never tells a lie. They will always be honest and answer a question, even a painful one, for the sake of their friend.
Secondly, a good friend is patient and merciful. I have both been the friend and had the friend who listens quietly while someone just needs to vent about something, or express a fear, joy, or frustration. It can be annoying, but people can’t very often figure everything out on their own. A good friend supports you through all the stressful, emotional times. A patient friend is also willing to accept your everyday faults and failings. When my best friend and I were eight or nine, we decided to come clean about the one thing that truly annoyed us about the other. I admitted I got annoyed when she wanted to help her mom or do work when I came over, but in the end I learned that I would rather pull weeds with that girl than never see her at all. Her annoyance with me was even smaller; she disliked how I almost never got my hair cut! We became closer and more patient with each other through admitting those petty little annoyances, even though we were so young. Also, a good friend is merciful. No matter how many times you screw up, they will forgive all your faults and every little annoyance.
A good friend is not only merciful, they are self-sacrificing. I remember my older sister had made plans with three friends to go to a dance, but a few days before, came down with a bad cold and just didn’t feel well enough to get dressed up and be active all night. She hated to disappoint her friends, but they cared more about her well-being than their fun night. They all cheerfully and drastically altered their plans so that rather than going out and dancing, they had a low-key night together watching movies and playing board games. Their genuine love for my sister drove them to sacrifice themselves and cater to her needs, not even minding if she got them sick. The truth is, the best of friends will always do what is best for you, even though that might not always be to take you back if you’ve hurt them. I know several people who had to very decisively end friendships that were hurting them, ultimately for the good of their misguided friend, who they still truly cared about. A self-sacrificing friend wills your happiness and well-being over their own, and will do what is best for both of you, not what is least painful or most convenient.
Finally, a good and faithful friend is just that; faithful. Faithfulness is the only thing that keeps friends together, especially long-distance friends. The friends I have who live closest to me are over two hours away, and without faithful friendship, it would be so easy, and at times convenient, to lose track of each other completely. However, I have been blessed with very faithful friends, who not only want to keep up with me; they make a sincere effort to, in spite of their busy lives and the other friends they see far more regularly. A faithful friend is also persistent in trying to help you; to achieve a dream, difficult trials, or simply with correcting personal flaws. Faithful friends never give up on you, and never let you give up on yourself, either. Faithful friends also take the time to look for the best in you. My friend once told me I should be a seamstress and a comedian in the same day. She has always assured me that whatever she loves in me, all the good she sees in me, I could make a whole career out of.
Without a doubt, my best friends, the most good and faithful, are the ones who, when I’m with them, I’m my favorite version of myself. Through their sincerity, patience, mercy, self-sacrifice, and faithfulness, they encourage me to be better than I am now. Absolutely everyone needs good and faithful friends, and so hopefully I can be a good friend, too.