A Journey Without An End

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”  — Shania Twain

Of all the treasures we have in this life, there is none more precious than friendship. “But what about love?” you might ask. Frankly, love without friendship is just an imitation of the real thing.

When all else fails us, when fame and fortune leave us, friendship remains. To paraphrase a quote by Oprah Winfrey, everyone wants to ride with you in the limousine, but a true friend is the one who will ride with you in the bus when everything else is lost.

Speaking of buses, I want to relate a true story I recently heard of an older man who gets on the bus every day and simply rides around his city, hoping a talkative person will sit down next to him to relieve his loneliness. I suspect he is not alone. For friendship is hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget.

Unfortunately, more of us are having a terrible time finding friendship these days, and it’s not due to lockdowns or social distancing.


Friendship Coaches

Believe it or not (you probably do), we now have certified friendship coaches. One of those coaches, Christy Pennison, who is a mental health counselor, recently stated:

“With many people’s lives running at full speed and in different directions, it’s hard to slow down long enough to find and develop new friendships. We are more connected than ever on our devices or social media, but finding someone in real life to connect with can be a challenge.”

Let’s talk about this “in real life” issue for a little while. Without exception, the dearest friends I have made in life were made in real life. They were not easy to find, all difficult to leave, and each one I’ve made is impossible to forget. They came into my life, settled into my heart and, as in the Shania Twain quote I included above, sang back my song when I forgot the words.

Indeed, I have made many acquaintances, and many kind people reach out to me on social media – and I value every one of you, but my most profound and oldest friends came into my life in real time. In actual living time. Unquestionably, my wife is my best friend, and other dear friends blessed me with their presence when my heart needed them most.

It was New Zealand author Anna Taylor who said: “Some people arrive and make such a beautiful impact on your life; you can barely remember what life was like without them.”

I would say that her statement is profoundly true. Even friends who are no longer with me physically somehow reverberate in my soul. They are the far-reaching ripples of a stone cast in the middle of a great pond. I am not ashamed to admit that I sometimes talk to these friends’ memories, asking them for advice or wishing them well no matter where they are.


Blessings Happen

My true-life friends are not carried with me on my cell phone or a social media website, but in my heart. And my heart aches for the poor friendless souls who ride alone on city buses or sit lonely in front of computers in coffee shops or those who put on a façade of needing no one.

To find a true friend is finding a rare, brilliant gemstone in a sea of pebbles. However, I also know we can make our luck. While not everyone we meet will be our friend (indeed, that’s the social media model), you have all the skills you need to make and keep beautiful friendships. Over time, I’ve noticed at least seven things about making friends that I’d like to share:

  1. Have the intention. Anyone can all play it cool and pretend they need no one. When a person reaches out, reach back. Maybe it will work out, perhaps it won’t, but please give yourself a chance.
  2. Let down the guard. Fortunately, I learned a long time ago that all of us are interconnected. We are all beautiful people bouncing around a somewhat troubled planet. I don’t know how your next friend will look, what they believe, where they work, how old they are and such. Neither do you. Please give them a chance and let down your guard. 
  3. Be vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to tell someone your story or share your joy or the heaviness on your heart. 
  4. Don’t be desperate. You are a beautiful and wonderful person. Don’t plead for friendship – be open to it. The person you see in the mirror is a lovely person. 
  5. Be a friend. The adage is as true today as it was 100 years ago. To make a friend, be a friend. If someone shares their heart, take it into your soul. 
  6. Expect grace. Expect the beauty of friendship. Don’t reject it by thinking, “I’m not worth it.” You are. I promise. 
  7. Like more, judge less. I have known people who so judged others and expected such perfection that they wound up with very few friends. Judge no one before you have taken the time to “see” them.

Finding a true friend is discovering a miracle. If you want to find out who’s a true friend, screw up or go through a challenging time, then see who sticks around. A true friend is a journey without an end.


For more information about Hall of Fame speaker and bestselling author Steve Gilliland and the Gilliland Foundation, please contact steve@stevegilliland.com / 724-540-5019 / www.stevegilliland.com.