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The Impact of Friends

This earth life can be messy and painful. It can also be full of wonder and joy. Occasionally, it is both at the same time.

Heavenly Father has given us a variety of methods to assist us as we maneuver through mortality, including the Savior ?s atonement, prayer, scriptures, prophets, patriarchal blessings, the gospel, and the priesthood. The list is endless. While all of these systems are available to us whenever we seek and are worthy of them, I have found that at times throughout my life there are one or two approaches that stand out as THE way to help me through a particular challenge, heartache, or blessing.

Currently, He is helping me find the joy of the journey ? through people – specifically through friends.

Good friends are willing to talk with you, listen to you, laugh with you, cry with you. They are the ones we turn to in times of crises and in times of joy. True friends see us at our worst and can look past those moments to appreciate our best.

Occasionally these friendships are instantaneous and just flow naturally from a deep-rooted connection. At other times, these relationships develop profoundly over a short amount of time as mutual respect and trust grow. And sometimes there are people who serve a purpose for a time and make an indelible impression on us that will never leave, even when the circumstances that brought us together are past.

I am the second of seven children, and my earliest friendships were with my older siblings. With the age gap and then my marriage and subsequent move across the country, my friendships with my three youngest siblings formed later in life. We are all now somewhat scattered across the globe, and there are challenges and heartaches that have touched (and even divided) my family over the years, but our childhood friendships have given each of us a foundation on which to build as we strive to do our best on this journey through mortality.

I was blessed with some great friends throughout junior high and high school. As I expanded my world (as all children do) we helped each other navigate the journey. We talked and laughed and cried as we helped each other through the highs and lows of our experiences.

As I grew up, I met others who made a difference in my life – specifically for me, I met lifelong friends at BYU summer youth programs. Through these friendships I gained confidence, courage, strength, and appreciation. I learned to serve and I learned to love. I met my eternal companion and my first sister-friend ? at these summer programs. These friends have guided me throughout my life.

Over the 21.5 years of my marriage, we have lived in four states and met a variety of people. There are more friends who have made a difference than I can count. My life has improved because of the examples of my friends. I am a better mom. I am a better friend. I am better able to recognize needs. I am better able to serve others. I am a better listener. My friends have helped me develop these characteristics.

Last summer I was introduced to a new form of friendship – blogging. Ray read to me a hilarious post at Mormon Mommy Wars, Adventures in Arizona, at a time when I desperately needed to re-learn how to laugh as I was surrounded by challenges and stress. I attended a Time Out for Women with friends and discovered some of them had personal blogs. I started my own. I linked a few favorites I had encountered, which led to more time spent with friends at Mormon Momma. I have found friendships among those I have never met in person but who offer support, perspective, advice, differing viewpoints, and even occasionally wake up calls. ? I have found out more about my friends in my ward than I could ever possibly discover during the brief talks between meetings at church – simply through sharing aspects of our lives in a blog post: parenting skills, learning processes, stresses, goals, vacations, accomplishments, and blessings we recognize in our lives. I have found a support group I previously never knew existed.

We all have people who impact our lives for the better, those who help us find joy in every circumstance in life. I ?m sure you could make your own lists of friends who have made a difference and have helped you through any number of situations.

Of all those who have made an imprint on our lives, there is One who has made the most lasting and essential impact of all. Our greatest Friend is Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. He is our Exemplar. He epitomizes the ultimate meaning of friendship.

Love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.(John 15:12–13)

He knows what it feels like to be lonely, to be bereft, to be scared, to be happy, to be of service. He knows how to succor us. He knows how to bless us. He understands us. He believes in our ability to succeed. He loves us. Truly, He is the ultimate Friend.

Some people have been a part of our earthly journeys only briefly, and others are eternal friends. But they have all impacted our lives for the better. Our lives are enriched because of the blessings of friendship that Heavenly Father included in His plan to help us find joy in mortality.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • kiar June 30, 2008, 6:35 pm

    Beautifully written, Michelle! Thank you so much for this at a time in my life when I am feeling a little lonely, and sad. I love to think back on the friendships in my life, those gone, and those still intact. For me, it has always been hard to make new and secure friendships. So those who I do open up to have become my family. The two that I have become closest to, I call my “spirit sisters”. We can tell each other anything, and as I found out just recently, we can weather pretty much every storm.
    Friendship is also a sacrifice, and its one that I have been burned making. But if the Saviour can do it, who am I to live in a bubble?
    Thank you so much for this!

  • davidson June 30, 2008, 6:37 pm

    Well, Michelle, I loved your post. Thank you, dear friend! You said what I’ve been feeling. I guess technically I might be an “addict” to this website, but I just can’t tell you what it’s meant to me, what good it has done. I don’t have the words–and I’m generally a pretty wordy person! Believe it or not, my patriarchal blessing actually refers to the good I would find at this website. I always wondered how it would be fulfilled, and now I know. I especially liked what you said about “what a friend we have in Jesus.” He is our kind, wise Heavenly Friend, of that I have become certain.

  • davidson June 30, 2008, 6:39 pm

    “Friendship is also a sacrifice, and its one that I have been burned making.” I like the metaphor, Kiar.

  • Michelle D June 30, 2008, 6:50 pm

    Kiar, I am the same way. I think my friends are so important to me now because I haven’t always had those strong, lasting friendships. Lots of acquaintance-friends, not many of the eternal-friends. I have found that the Lord has blessed me with some of these eternal friends when I needed them most. Try to remember that even when you are feeling alone and sad, there is a huge support group here at MM who appreciate you and your insights and thoughts that you share here! You make an important contribution!

    Davidson, you are a wordy person just like I am, and for you not to have the words to express yourself… wow! 🙂 The beauty and wonder of friendship has been on my mind a lot lately. Background: Eternal Friends How amazing to find fulfillment of your patriarchal blessing here. I think too often I take my Savior’s friendship for granted…

    Thanks, both of you for your comments! I will take them with me as I go to work tonight.

  • mandyp July 1, 2008, 10:37 am

    Thank you for this post! It makes me want to call all the wonderful friends that I have and thank them for everything they have done for me.
    I recently reconnected with a friend from jr. high that I had lost contact with. She had been on my mind a lot and I felt like I needed to find a way to get in touch with her. When I finally did I learned that she is struggling with something that I have struggled with and she was feeling very lonely and discouraged. Hopefully I have been able to help her to know that she is not alone.
    It amazes me how the Lord knows what we need and without fail there is always somebody in our lives who can fulfill that need for Him.

  • davidson July 1, 2008, 11:09 am

    Mandyp, welcome here! And may I just say that I don’t think the Lord could fulfill needs the way He did in that situation if you weren’t living your life in a manner to receive the instruction. It says a bunch about who you are. What a wonderful friend you must be, to that woman and to God.

  • agardner July 1, 2008, 11:31 am

    Michelle, great article.

    Isn’t funny how as you get older, your true friends become even closer despite distance? I have a few close friends who I stay in touch with from middle school! We don’t see each other often, but when we do it is a happy reunion, and I love exchanging cards and letters with them. I’m still trying to get them into the blogging world!

    And speaking of blogging, I have “met” some super people, including yourself Michelle, through groups such as this one. And like you say, it’s fun to see people’s personal blogs and see a whole new side that you might not see at church or work or whatever. I find through reading about people’s lives, that most are more interesting and articulate than I ever would have thought.

  • facethemusic July 5, 2008, 9:22 am

    Lovely, Michelle! And so true! I think you probably spoke for everyone with this post! I know I feel the exact same way and you said it so well.
    I especially appreciated your comments about friendships with siblings. I’m so grateful for the friendship I have with one of my brothers. We were always close– but it was also the typical brother/sister relationship with arguing, a little rivalry, etc. It’s different now that we’re adults and I honestly consider him to be one of my best friends. I’ve also become really good friends with his wife– and that’s really cool, too. It wasn’t always that way, and I’m so grateful that we’ve become such good friends.
    I wish I could say the same about my other brothers– but as they distanced themselves from the church it affected our relationships as well. My life is centered around the gospel– the way I look at things, the way I raise my kids, the way I view the world, the way I view and treat my marriage, the way I view other relationships, the way I view people’s actions, the way I vote, the way I spend my money, the way I determine where I’m going to live, HOW I’m going to live, etc…. it all comes down to my testimony and what I know to be true— and we don’t share that anymore. So even though one of them is super fun to be around and can make you laugh till you think you’re going to fall over and pass out, and even though I love him deeply- there isn’t the closeness that there is with my first brother, because we don’t have the same deep and spiritual connection.
    I’m also grateful for the friendship I have with my mother– I love that about being an adult.
    We used to be neighbors back in Utah– that was SO much fun. I loved having her that close– we actually “hung out” together like best girlfriends and I miss that.

  • jennycherie July 7, 2008, 10:13 pm

    beautiful article, Michelle.

    “I am the second of seven children, and my earliest friendships were with my older siblings. …our childhood friendships have given each of us a foundation on which to build as we strive to do our best on this journey through mortality.”

    That is so wonderful and it is so what I want for my children. I want them to grow up to be friends. I ache sometimes for the friendship it seems I don’t really have anymore with my brother. We have both chosen lifestyles that are contradictory and it is hard to bridge that gap. I need to make a better effort.

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