“If all my friends were to jump off a bridge, I wouldn’t follow. I’d be at the bottom to catch them when they fall.”
One of my weaknesses, according to my mother, is that I’m too loyal to my friends. Out of loyalty to my mother I’m not going to go into why her opinion on that matter doesn’t hold much value for me. We are like chalk and cheese in that regard, and there is not much we see eye to eye on. I’m learning to accept that, and I still love her.
I’ve never seen loyalty as a weakness, although I accept that at times my loyalty has hurt me. That’s where it gets hard. At what point do I protect myself from hurt, because sure hurt is part of life. If I don’t risk hurt, then am I really alive?
What is loyalty? Out of curiosity, and amusement, I looked up the Urban Dictionary. It defines loyal as:
“Faithful to a person or a cause; firmly in alliance
to somebody or something. Always there for
somebody when they need you.” (1.)
As a comparison, the Oxford Dictionary (the one I grew up with) defines it as:
“giving or showing firm and constant support
or allegiance to a person” (2.)
From both of those definitions, I’m still inclined to refuse to see loyalty as a weakness. Actually I don’t think there is enough of it in our world today. Wouldn’t it be great if we believed in the people who matter to us, and stood by them, no matter what?
Actually I’m inclined to believe that mental illness wouldn’t be such a big problem if we stood by our friends. I’m not denying the seriousness of mental illness, but I am convinced that it’s effects are made worse because of isolation and a lack of care for each other.
I’m not one of those people who has hundreds of friends on Facebook. I know plenty of people but regardless of Facebook’s definition of ‘friend’ I choose my friends because they are people who matter to me personally. There is something wrong when I can have hundreds, if not thousands, of ‘friends’ but not have one that I can turn to in need.
Even aside from social media I don’t have a whole lot of people that I count as friends, but those that I do can know that I believe in them and I will support them, no matter what. It’s not my place to judge anyone, ever. Although don’t get me wrong, I choose my friends very carefully. I guess in a way you have to earn your friendship with me, and I repay that with loyalty. I will always stand by people I call my friends.
But yes, sometimes that hurts. And it has hurt over the past week as I have chosen to be loyal to a friend I love. Not because that friend has hurt me in any way, but because I have chosen to share the hurt they are experiencing.
I’m not a parent but I am sure it is the same as how a parent can get hurt in loving their child. Sometimes there is pain, but that’s not a reason to not love. As I write, it occurs to me that sometimes it hurts me to love my mother. But I still do, and I will still stand by her.
Actually I think it’s a shame that Facebook chose to name connections with others as ‘friends’. It’s taken the meaning out of the word. ‘Friends’ to Facebook are simply connections you have made, and not necessarily people who matter. I think this cheapens, and degrades the real meaning.
Out of curiosity again I went back to the Urban Dictionary, because it’s definitions offered more sense of warmth than the Oxford. It suggested a range of definitions of a friend, including this one:
“A person who would never intentionally hurt you, lie to you, deceive you, manipulate you, abuse you and who takes great care to be kind to you, honest with you, dependable and loyal. Someone who you trust without question because they have never given you any reason not to trust them. Someone you enjoy being around and look forward to seeing. Someone who would sacrifice themself for you.” (3.)
I know that asks a lot, but it’s not too much for someone who offers the same back to me. Because that’s the thing about friendship. It goes both ways, and while I might have hurt for a friend this past week, maybe they will hurt for me next week. It’s not that I do it for that reason, but there are benefits both ways, always. Meantime I stand by the people I choose to call friends. It doesn’t matter whether I have met them in person, or not. I’ve made my decision and I will stand by them.
As regular readers will know, I am a fan of NZ music and I particularly like Dave Dobbyn. This song is almost an over-played one in my country, but for good reason.
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey
- Henri J.M. Nouwen: “that is a friend who cares.” (lifeondoverbeach.wordpress.com)
- Do you consider yourself a loyal person? (jimmersgirl.wordpress.com)
- Where My Loyalties Lie (fromraewithlove.com)