It is interesting to note that “friend” comes from the same root word as “free.”
When troubles come your soul to try,
You love a friend who just stands by;
Perhaps there’s nothing he can do,
The thing is strictly up to you;
For there are troubles all your own,
And paths the soul must tread alone,
Bad times when love can’t smooth the road,
Nor friendship lift the heavy load.
But just to feel you have a friend,
Who will stand by until the end,
Whose sympathy through all endures,
Whose warm handclasp is always yours,
It helps some how to pull you through,
Although there’s nothing he can do.
And so with fervent heart we cry:
God bless the friend who just stands by.
Bro. Hyles said, “One of the great joys of my life is loving people for whom I would die and having the love of people who would die for me.”
What is a friend? Friends are people with whom you dare to be yourself. Your soul can be naked with them. They ask you to put on nothing, only to be what you are. They do not want you to be better or worse. When you are with them, you feel as a prisoner feels that has been declared innocent. You do not have to be on your guard. You can say what you think, as long as it is genuinely you. “Friends understand those contradictions in your nature that lead others to misjudge you. With them you breathe freely. You can avow your little vanities and envies and hates and vicious sparks, your mean nesses and absurdities, and in opening them up to friends, they are lost, dissolved on the white ocean of their loyalty.” They understand. You do not have to be careful. You can abuse them, neglect them, and tolerate them. Best of all, you can keep still with them. It makes no matter. They like you. They are like fire that purges to the bone. They understand. You can weep with them, sing with them, laugh with them, and pray with them. Through it all–and underneath–they see, know, and love you. A friend? What is a friend? Just one, I repeat, with whom you dare to be yourself. C. Raymond Beran, in Bits & Pieces, September 19, 1991, p. 3-4.