When we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. -Henri Nouwen
That second list is significantly shorter. And more valuable.
I am overwhelmed, actually, by how long that shorter list is. I'm not sure where we get (or I get) the idea that significance is measured primarily by longevity, but I am beginning to rethink that premise in my own life. That is not to say that endurance and perseverance are without value -- not at all. But they are not the singular or primary requisite for relational value.
As I grow to know and love Jesus, different aspects of his character speak to me with varying impacts. One of the characteristics of Christ's love that overwhelms me in all the best ways is that he knows me in my suffering. He walks through the dark places and the high waters with me.
It is the same with friends. Those who have weathered my storms or who have given me the privilege of being with them through theirs -- not only to weep together, but also to eventually hope together -- these friends are on the short list.
I need to learn from this myself -- that to be a friend is not always to offer solutions as much as it is to offer myself. Oh to be more like Christ!