A Precious Thing

“Friend” is a word as broad as the proverbial barn door. 
It can mean anything from simply one who is not an enemy 
	to one 
		you trust 
			with your life.
It’s a great word, but unless you know how it’s being used, 
It’s meaningless.
	Does it refer to an acquaintance, 
		a colleague, 
			a neighbour, 
				a comrade,
					an associate, 
						a sibling?
It could be any of those... or none of them.
A friendship is unlike any other relationship, 
	though it’s easy to miss the fact. 
Some refer to a person they met five minutes ago as a “friend.” 
Others wait a while, 
	knowing it takes time to establish a friendship.
Good friends are hard to find 
	and friendships should be cherished. 
I approach strangers with warmth, 
		and openness,
			but I don't think everyone is my friend. 
There are people I admire that I wouldn't call my friends. 
There are people in my community, 
	my workplace, 
		my church, 
			that I wouldn’t call my friends.
A friend is someone you trust enough 
	to invite into your life 
		at a level at which they can affect you. 
A friend can correct, 
			and counsel you 
				in a way that you can receive. 
A friend can change you 
	and we do well to hesitate before letting just anybody do that. 
We are so susceptible to negative influence 
	that we need to be careful about those to whom we give 
		the privilege of affecting us deeply.
If I call you friend, 
	I don't do so lightly. 
		I'm not doing so thoughtlessly, 
			or because I can't think of any other word 
				to describe our relationship. 
I call you friend because we share a bond. 
				positive regard, 
					and the right to offer input 
						into each other's life.