Today, I came across some statements from the poet David Whyte that I want to share. In his new book Consolations, he writes this about one of our most important ongoing experiences in life:
Friendship is a mirror to presence and a testament to forgiveness. Friendship not only helps us see ourselves through another’s eyes, but can be sustained over the years only with someone who has repeatedly forgiven us for our trespasses as we must find it in ourselves to forgive them in turn. A friend knows our difficulties and shadows and remains in sight, a companion to our vulnerabilities more than our triumphs, when we are under the strange illusion we do not need them. An undercurrent of real friendship is a blessing exactly because its elemental form is rediscovered again and again through understanding and mercy. All friendships of any length are based on a continued, mutual forgiveness. Without tolerance and mercy all friendships die.
That's a beautiful characterization of an immensely valuable thing in life, whose importance we easily forget. And I want to give you one more passage, because of the deeply wise advice it provides:
To remain friends we must know the other and their difficulties and even their sins and encourage the best in them, not through critique but through addressing the better part of them, the leading creative edge of their incarnation, thus subtly discouraging what makes them smaller, less generous, less of themselves.
Real friends help each other grow. We help our friends best when we encourage the best in them. Sometimes, yes, we need to point out a flaw with that honesty that only true friendship will muster. And it can be effective, when given and received in the right spirit. But more often, we help our friends most by encouraging them to be their best selves, through genuine praise and reinforcement.
Life is a team sport. Great friends make for great teams.