Thursday, June 5, 2008

Of Faith and Friendship

I read somewhere that if you can count your best friends on one hand, you are very blessed indeed. After all these years, I am still not lucky enough to have that privilege.

There are friends, and there are friends. Many, unfortunately, are fairweather friends and in times of trouble you know exactly who they are.

They are the ones conspicuous by their absence in your shrinking circle the moment you hit a rough patch. They are the ones with a thousand excuses when contacted for help.

They are also the ones who would, pointedly, keep you at arm's length and out of their social circle for fear you might cast your gloom on them. In other words, they avoid you like the proverbial plague.

Sadly, with the exception of a select few, the same applies to kith and kin. You are no longer made to feel welcome in their homes, for fear you might ask for the inevitable - help.

Way back in the 1990s when my PR consultancy business was booming, I had a lot of friends. People I didn't even know crawled out of the woodworks to be my friends.

It didn't help that I wasn't "kedekut" (tight-fisted) with what little that I had, thanks to my late grandmother's constant drumming to be equally grateful to God and helpful to man at all times.

But when business folded towards the end of the decade - a painful aftermath of the 1997 financial meltdown - I was left pretty much on my own, with a mountain of debts and not a soul in sight to lend even a shoulder, let alone money.

That was when reality hit home. Struggling to make ends meet while raising four children single-handedly, I remember going from job to job trying to earn a decent living.

Even after I lost my house to pay off debts, the family remained upbeat. So what if we no longer had a house to call our own, and by the same token, no friends left? We still had each other.

Of course life was tough going. But I learned to make the best out of the worst. I remember thinking I didn't need these so-called friends to get on with my life.

In my sphere of existence then, I saw them as a liability to me, not me as a liability to them as they would have had it. Put that way, I had an easier time coping.

That was also the time when I turned inwards, seeking solace in prayer. It didn't matter what people said - they could smirk for whatever it was worth - but it was never too late to make your peace with God.

There is a lot of truth in the principle of faith; for as long as you don't lose faith in God, you will be alright under any circumstances whatsoever.

Friends may desert you in times of trouble, but rest assured God won't. He is the only one who matters above all else, and the only ONE truly worth it.

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