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The Value of Friends
(...are they worth more than you realize?).

If asked, we would all probably agree that having friendships is very important and not only is important, but it’s usually fun, right? I mean, we have the opportunity to talk about the latest guy or girl we like, we get to go do things with our friends, they make us laugh and feel special and accepted.

But is that what being friends is all about? Chatting about relationships and laughing? Or does being a friend mean something else, too – does it carry special responsibilities? I think that when we say that we’re a friend to someone, then we need to do all we can to help make sure our friend is safe and happy. Being a friend, to me, means asking if our friend are okay and genuinely trying to help them through tough times.

One of the hardest parts of being a friend is being sworn to secrecy and then being told something that our friends are being deliberately hurt by someone (such as being abused) or that they are choosing to do something that is dangerous to themselves (such as drugs). We've sworn not to tell but our hearts know that the situation they are in is bad and dangerous.

What do we do?
We don’t want to risk having them get angry at us and ending the friendship and yet it’s tough going through each day knowing that they are being raped or hit or turning to cocaine or ecstasy. We don’t want to lose their trust or make it a bigger deal than it maybe really is but we also don’t want to wonder about whether or not our choice to remain silent is the right one. From everything in my life, to all the troubles I have heard from other people, I can say that true friends find the courage to talk, to reveal those dangerous secrets.

Whether they are aware of it or not, people who tell friends about the serious situations they are in, are asking for help. People who do drugs usually do not try to hide that fact from anyone but the police and their parents. Their friends, though, usually know that they are on drugs. The friend who told the others the situation did so because they really want help.

Why don’t they come out and say they need help, then?
It’s kind of hard to grasp, but people who are in dangerous situations often don’t really believe anyone cares about them and/or they don’t believe that they can be helped. It may also be that they are afraid of having their parents find out the truth. Sometimes when we’re really, really hurting we can’t help ourselves. We try to by saying, "My dad does stuff to me" or "Yeah, I do all kinds of drugs at the raves" or "My boyfriend gets mad easily" or by letting the cuts we’ve made on ourselves visible to other people. We try to help ourselves but sometimes we can’t because it feels as though fear of the unknown has us caged. So, because we can’t pull ourselves up into the healing light, we can only hope that our friends will help us.

Once we, as friends, decide that the secret we’ve been told must be told, the next step is actually telling someone. Sometimes it’s as easy as going to your school counselor or youth minister, but sometimes we have to tell our parents the problem and let them take it from there. Our friends may become angry at first and may say things that they really don’t mean. Some may even end the friendship but the real question that we need to ask ourselves is, "Would I rather lose the friendship or their life?" because if the secrets involves self-harm, drugs, abuse or activity that we know is dangerous, then if it’s not stopped, it will eventually take their life, or their spirit.

Being a true friend, then, means putting their well-being above even the friendship because in the long run, it will save a life. Not only that but you will know that you cared enough about your friend to do something (talk) that was hard for you to do.

The Bible says that we are all brothers and sisters and we know that the ultimate act of love and friendship took place when Christ died on the cross for us. Likewise, today’s friendships may require some sacrifice but in the long run, we won’t have to live with regret and we’ll have played part in helping to show our friends the way back to health and happiness.