Today’s daily reading comes from the book of Sirach, which is arguably my favorite book of the Bible. The selection from Sir 6:5-17 is about friendship, and I’m going to quote the whole thing here because it is that good:
A kind mouth multiplies friends and appeases enemies,
and gracious lips prompt friendly greetings.
Let your acquaintances be many,
but one in a thousand your confidant.
When you gain a friend, first test him,
and be not too ready to trust him.
For one sort is a friend when it suits him,
but he will not be with you in time of distress.
Another is a friend who becomes an enemy,
and tells of the quarrel to your shame.
Another is a friend, a boon companion,
who will not be with you when sorrow comes.
When things go well, he is your other self,
and lords it over your servants;
But if you are brought low, he turns against you
and avoids meeting you.
Keep away from your enemies;
be on your guard with your friends.
A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter;
he who finds one finds a treasure.
A faithful friend is beyond price,
no sum can balance his worth.
A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy,
such as he who fears God finds;
For he who fears God behaves accordingly,
and his friend will be like himself.
I especially like the last sentence. I’ve heard it put this way: “We attract what we are.” I have found that to be so true, with both my romantic attractions and with my female friendships. Life has brought many new relationships to me in the past two years, and they all in some way have been mirrors in which I could see myself more clearly.
The wisdom of this is that if I want to change the way people treat me, I need to first change myself. As I grow, the users and abusers will likely fade into the background as long as I’m willing to let them go. This has been my experience so far.
On the flip side, as I become more faithful to myself, I have begun to attract other healthy, faithful people into my life. Their ways may have once been very distasteful to me; there was a time when I would have called them rigid, stuffy or judgmental. Now I see them as women and men who respect themselves and God. I take it as a sign of progress that they are in my life.