It was the son’s birthday. He was turning 21 and hoped to throw a big party and invite all his friends. Since this was an important mile marker in the life of his son, the father decided to teach his boy a lesson on friendship. He asked the son to put together a list of his closest friends to invite to the big celebration. Later that day, the young man handed his dad a list containing the names of 50 of his best friends. His father nodded and told him that he would take care of the invitations.
On the day scheduled for the big party, the son arrived at the venue, excited to celebrate the beginning of adulthood with his friends. As the hour progressed, however, he was surprised to realize that only 15 friends had actually showed up. He turned to his dad, frustrated: “I gave you a list of 50 of my friends, Dad! How come you invited only 15?”
The father grinned. “I invited all 50 of your friends to come, son. When I extended the invitation, however, I told them you were in need of their help, and asked them to meet you here today. Only these showed up. Look at their faces. Remember their names. These are your true friends.”
My sister told this parable as we drove around the beautiful island of Florianopolis in South Brazil during my visit earlier this week. Her illustration perfectly fitted a true story I had just told her about my recent experience concerning my friends back home in Atlanta.
In the beginning of January, my husband lost his job of 12 years after a workforce reduction initiative in his former company. We are thrilled that he was offered a great new position in the beginning of May, but as in any valley that we cross in life, there are lessons we learned through these past months. Of all of the blessings we have watched God pour onto our lives as we waited for a new door to open, one stands out: We have learned that the few people we call friends are truly our friends.
I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love during these four months. Two couples and their families surprised us at home with dinner, the night after my husband lost his job. One of these couples drove over an hour on a weeknight to be there for us. Each one of the guys pulled my husband aside to offer to help in any way.
A prominent executive at a large firm stopped in the middle of his international travel schedule to have lunch with my husband and introduce him to another executive, in an attempt to expand my husband’s network.
Texts came in daily. Phone calls never ceased. Words of encouragement and many prayers were offered on our behalf.
Had we not gone through this valley, we would have missed the lesson: “There’s a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” the Proverb says. We were blessed to find out that is true to the few people we consider our friends.
The lesson the father taught his son in the parable is an important one. Because when life happens — and it will — and we find ourselves in the valley, everyone needs a few good friends. But the other side of the lesson is that each of us must strive to be a good friend to someone. Because the difference between feeling lost in our troubles or keeping our hearts anchored in hope, can sometimes be simply one phone call away.
Patricia Holbrook is a Christian author, blogger and International speaker. Her Book Twelve Inches is on sale at Barnes & Nobles, Amazon and retailers worldwide. Visit her website www.soaringwithHim.com. Email