“A friend loveth at all times.” (Proverbs 17:17)
Friendship is a wonderful thing. The love of friendship is often stronger than the love of brotherhood and sisterhood. There is a cord of tenderness and appreciation binding those who are friends which is lovely beyond words to express it. Every truehearted girl loves her friends with a devotion that beautifies her life and enlarges her heart. She who is unable to be true in friendship has little of value in her.
A friendship does not grow up spontaneously. It must have a good soil in which to take root, good seed from which to start, and care and cultivation, in order to become its best. The good soil is sincerity and truth coupled with kindness and affection. The good seed is love and appreciation. And it must be watched closely that no weeds of jealousy or envy creep in, and the soil must be constantly stirred by kind acts, words of appreciation and affection, and mutual admiration. There dare be no selfish interests nor evil suspicions in true friendship. The smallest bit of mistrust will blight it like frost. Friendship is tender, but it is beautiful.
An old friend is more to be prized than a new one. The longer friendship stands the stronger it becomes, if it be the genuine kind. New friends spring up and fall away, but old friends cling to you through all. Hold fast your old friends, and those who have been friends to your father before you. They have your interests at heart. They will judge kindly when new friends condemn.
A person is made better or worse by his friends. If they are well chosen and faithful they build up and make strong the best that is in one; but if they are unwisely chosen they drag down and destroy all that is pure within. For a man will be like his friends. Show me the friends of a girl, those whom she most appreciates, and I will tell you what kind of girl she is though I never see her. Good girls have friends who are pure, noble, sincere. Girls who are careless of their deportment and reputation have just the other kind. You will find them seeking friends among those who are light-minded. A girl cannot rise higher than the level of her friends. Either they will lift her up, or she will descend to their level.
A girl should have many friends, but only a very few intimate friends. There is an inner circle into which a girl with true womanly instinct cannot invite many. Her nature is such that she must have a confidant, one to whom she feels free to tell out her heart’s deepest secrets; but she is foolish indeed who tries to be thus confidential with many. The safest girl is the one who makes her mother her most confidential friend.
Every girl wants a chum. A chum used in the right way is a good thing in any girl’s life. But there is a chumminess that is detrimental in the extreme. When a chum comes into a girl’s heart closer than any other person, and to that chum is told every little secret, not only of the teller, but of her family also, and into her ears is poured out every bit of gossip and slander the girl hears, that chum is a detriment. When two girls plan together against the laws and management of their homes, vowing undying fidelity to each other in their secrets, chums become a menace indeed.
But when two girls can be understanding friends, each able to go to the other for help and encouragement, and whose plans and lives are kept open for the inspection of interested mothers, such friendships are good.
Fickleness in friendship is a common girlish fault. Youth changes so fast that she who pleases for a while soon becomes dull. For a few weeks or months the vials of love and devotion are poured out on the chosen chum, and then in a moment of misunderstanding the cords are broken, and in another day bound upon another friend. To the new friend are poured out all the secrets gained from the old friend, and so the gossip grows. A girl who will become “miffed” with her friend, and tell what she has sacredly promised to keep is not worthy of being called a friend.
Some girls take their girlhood friendships too seriously. They allow a sentimental love to bind itself around a chum so that a few weeks of separation may cause “oceans of tears” to be shed. The red-eyed one goes about feeling herself a martyr to love, when she is only enjoying a foolish sentiment. In friendship be sensible.
When girls have friends among the men and boys, even more care should be used in their selection and treatment than when with girls. There is only a small margin between the love of friendship and romance, and what the girl may have begun only as friendship may develop into something more serious.
Again, if a girl will make herself too familiar in her friendships with the other sex, she is liable to give them a wrong conception of her. She may appear to them to be only a “good fellow,” and they may interpret that appellation to mean that she has let down some of her womanly guards and does not expect to be treated with the deference and respect usually given to good women. Any girl is in a dangerous position when she gets this reputation.
When girls work and play with men and boys, as they all will do sometime or other, they should be sociable, friendly, even jolly in their association together, but never should girls forget that it is their place to avoid and resent any bold familiarity, and that every true man or boy will respect them for keeping up their guards.
True friendship will never ask a woman to step down from her womanly dignity and discretion. She holds her honor and her appearance of honor higher than everything else.
My dear friend, choose your friends carefully, and keep them loyal. While you are kind to those who have fallen, remember that it is not for you, a young girl, to raise them up by seeking their company. You are too easily drawn away yourself. Let your friends be chosen from among those whom you can admire and emulate, that is, those whose conversation and deportment will lead you up instead of down. Keep in mind, of course, the two classes of friends, that outward group to whom you are always sociable and friendly and the inner group with whom you become really intimate. One should be friends with those who need friendship even if they are not so desirable, but no girl can become intimate with people of low standards and morals without becoming contaminated. If you are a young Christian, seek out friends among those who are longer in the service and keep out of the company of those who draw your mind away from things that are right.
Old friends of your parents who have proved themselves true in all circumstances in the past, respect and cherish also, though they may seem queer and out of fashion now. Those who have loved and advised your father and your mother will be all the more careful in advising you. Though they be plain people and little used to the things common to you, listen to them and use their advice as far as you can.
Be a true friend yourself. Never let it be said that in you was placed confidence that was not deserved. “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly.”
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