Parish of St Matthew the Apostle,
Douglas, Isle of Man

Young People's Corner

Choosing friends is one of the most important things we do. The course of our lives may well depend on it.

Have you got some good friends? What is it about them you like? What is it about you that they seem to like? Do people stay friends with you? Or do you find they soon lose interest and start avoiding you? What affects or repels people?

Let’s look at two of the things that attract or repel other people.

1. Looks. If you notice a pretty girl or handsome boy your attention is raised, and you are attracted to them, so you may well say, ‘I’d like to be friends with him or her.’

But if you notice someone who is different – maybe culturally, physically or mentally you may turn away.

However, don’t rush in and decide at once – look beyond the skin-deep appearance and find out what is under the skin. Are they pleasant, considerate, smiling people or can you detect intolerance, superiority, self-centred or even cruel tendencies? The outward appearance may be right or very deceptive. The most important consideration is what does the outward appearance cover up? In either case, beautiful or not so attractive, there might be a charming, happy, delightful personality, full of kindness, consideration and love or an unpleasant, selfish person filled with hate.

Of course, there is some of all these characteristics in all of us, but before you choose a friend estimate what character lies under the beautiful or unpleasant skin.

We can so easily dismiss people because they are different. It may be their culture or physical ability concerning, say, movement, sight or hearing or mental capacity such as brilliantly clever or slow to understand. Then we miss out on their different life experiences: travel, climate, emotions and lots of enjoyment.

2. Money is a very dangerous attraction. Those who are wealthy, and their children often appear to have everything – the latest ‘phone, a fast sports car, endless gourmet meals – but friendship is not about these things and where it needs consideration it can bring jealousy and hurt to both sides. If you have too much, people can seek your friendship for financial advantage for themselves. If you have too little you can be in endless trouble trying to acquire the money ‘to keep up’ or suffer from insecurity and deprivation. If money is the issue in a friendship it is better to find a new friend.

So, how do we find friends?

Be pleasant to everyone. Then look not at the shape of their faces and bodies, their clothes or the things that adorn them, but at their personalities, character and attitude to life. Real friendship is a long-term association built on reliability, kindness, selflessness and always being there, willing to help when encouragement is needed. Someone with whom you can relax, laugh and have fun. Avoid people connected with drugs, excessive drinking and immoral behaviour. Embrace those who are interesting and knowledgeable, adventurous and good companions.

The yardstick by which to measure them is our best friend, Jesus. We don’t expect our friends to come up to his standard, but we can take note of his priorities, for example, unselfishness – the story of the Good Samaritan. You can think of as many more as you can. There are lots!

Remember if you want people to be good friends to you, you have to be equally good friends to them which means you have to work at it.

Good luck with your many friends.

Ruth Solomon