Opinion

Friends to keep, friends to avoid

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People wonder why their friends desert them when the going gets tough, when they fall. But the reason is simple. There are usually as many motives for friendship, even marriage, as there are friends, spouses.

Years back at the Methodist Teacher Training College in Aburi, Ghana, (of Aburi Accord fame) there was a student who responded to a search for anybody with the famous Good Samaritan parable. For example, you asked him where is Kofi, and he went: “One day, a man was travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho; on his way he was met by robbers…..”

Long story cut short, the man was attacked by robbers and the most unlikely person got down to where he lay dying to save his life.

That joke makes so much sense. We seem to forget this basic fact of life when we cry friends have deserted us; when for-better-for-worse partners walk out of our lives.

The negative effects of lonely life are some of the reasons God created Eve for Adam‎. And if companionship is important, why don’t friends stay? Simple! Many friends are not meant to stay. They are opportunists who leave as soon as they get what they want, or when you fall into a hole, as was the case of Mr. Olu Abosede.

Olu Abosede

Mr. Abosede was founder and former Managing Director of a wholly indigenous, quoted company, Aboseldehyde Plc. The company was once used as a reference point for other local entrepreneurs who wanted their companies listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). Within a period of 14 years, the company had become a very strong brand in the country in its niche area.

Things were pretty good for him. He built his first personal multi-million Naira house at age 28 and a second at 32. His house at Gbagada, Lagos, was a beehive of activities by friends and associates who regularly showed up on weekends to treat themselves to some choice wines in his well-stocked personal bar.

Then, in a sudden twist, from 2000, he fell. In a slide of fortune, there was a forced take-over of his company by creditors; his two houses in Lagos were razed by fire, leaving him with no option than to move into a rented apartment. Where were the friends? They disappeared!

The leaves, the branches and the roots

Many friends, according to Tyler Perry, are like the leaves of a tree, they disappear when the season turns unfavourable.

Another group, he says, is branch friends, stronger than the leaf. but can’t be depended on because they break off during storms. One has to check them out well before putting any weight on them.

In his analysis, the root friends, deep and firm in the ground, are the best group of friends to have. But he rightly warns they are rare. You find one and you have found something special, a treasure. The Root people tolerate your weaknesses and support you through thick and thin; rain and shine. And they are firm. When all others are gone, they will still be there.

Interesting! ‎ But it gets more interesting and meaningful from this angle. From personal experience, and the experience of others I have taken interest in as a writer, I relate better with the analysis of Bishop TD Jakes, which I restate with additions here – starting with the worst case scenario, which is the most common.

The Comrades

They are your friends particularly because you have a common enemy – they are against what you are against. They are not for you or what you stand for but to fight a boss or a colleague. There are many of them in the workplace and in densely populated accommodations like blocks of many flats or face-me-face-you houses. The fuel of the friendship is rumours about the common enemy.

Don’t be deceived, they will only stay until ‘victory’ is won. If you check well, they are like scaffolding. They come into their life to fulfill their purpose, and then the scaffolding is removed. But don’t cry when the scaffolding is ‎removed, the building always remains.

The Constituents

They are not for you: they are for what you have or what you stand for. They walk with you, play with you, but when they meet other people who will further their agenda or offer better things, they will leave you to hook up with them because they are never for you. They are only your constituents, your friends for what you offer.

It is easy to mistaken this group of people for true friends, especially when you are broken. But by the time you fall in love with them, they will break your heart because it was never about you anyway. It was about what they wanted, and not about you. This is common in man-woman; boy – girl relationships. ‎

The Confidants

Like the Roots people, they are very few and therefore rare to find. He or she is the person who is in your life unconditionally. They are with you whether you are up or down; through thick and thin. They are there during life’s storms; through the sorrows of the night and the morning joy. They cry with you and rejoice with you. Like in the David and Jonathan friendship, they help you get out of trouble and do the victory dance with you.

Confidants are not just receivers, they invest their time and other resources in you as you do them. They advise and criticize you when necessary. But they are not dream killers; rather they help you‎ achieve your purpose in life. They are there to help you actualize your destiny.

People like that are rare, and so if you are fortunate to have one or two in your life, you are a blessed person.  If you have a confidant as a spouse, ‎you are made.

Another group of people to avoid are those who seek to control your personality or control you, make you dump your destiny and do what they want. They are people to avoid, as you avoid the Comrades and Constituents. Many men have married women with huge potentials like Oprah Winfrey but killed the potentials to have the women live in servitude. Many bosses are also like that. Avoid manipulators and destiny killers.

Also, expect the Constituents and Comrades to leave your life when they get what they want because they were not expected to be there in the first place. So don’t be upset. Take their departure as a lesson and choose your friends carefully. Don’t rush it; don’t rush into marry; don’t be deceived. You were specifically created to fulfill a destiny.

Ask Acting President Osinbajo

Through it all, we come to the realisation that the only one to trust is God, even with things He cannot do. And you wonder what God, to who nothing is impossible, cannot do? Well, He cannot lie. God is trustworthy, faithful, so ever faithful that He CANNOT FAIL! This is why we need to commit ourselves to God, for He loves us without condition. He never will abandon us.  Even if we make mistakes and go our own way, He always is ready to welcome us back, and restore us if we return to Him.

However, He will not come down to be your physical companion. No, but He does send CONFIDANTS if you trust Him for one.  Ask Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, he will tell you who God gave him as a wife: My gift from God watching over me, my support at my side, my wings, my wife, my treasure.”

He didn’t have to add is that Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo is God-fearing because that is all too obvious. Madam, who commands huge respect, is like someone with humility wrapped all over her – so disarmingly humble!

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