Friends and Enemies

A good friend is hard to find, they say. Actually, it’s more like a great friend is hard to find. Look at your own friend pool and select the one you’d place ‘best’ in front of ‘friend’. If you can identify a certain someone, then you have decided to be exclusive. It’s kind of like dating. Others may be on the fringe of being selected, but ultimately don’t hold that special something to earn the title. And if you’re fortunate, that certain someone has labeled you withe the same distinction. This is the essence of the best friend. 

Conversely, there is the enemy. The arch-rival; the nemesis; the one in opposition to your joy. At one point you may have tried to be cordial; to mend the barrier between you, but either you or the other party just wouldn’t have it. And it would seem that every meeting afterward has had the same ending: you don’t like them; they don’t like you; and if you could, you’d secretly like to see them fail, if possible. This is the essence of the enemy.

When I was growing up, I had a few good friends. I was fortunate to have a best friend too, and he and I have remained that way well into our 20s and now 30s. I feel even more fortunate looking back, seeing the times when we could have called it quits, but didn’t. Truly , we are best friends. And not surprisingly, the best men at each other’s weddings.

But, then there’s the enemy. That revolving door of faces I’ve encountered, ever-changing in a way that was dependent on where I was in life: elementary school, junior high, high school, college, the professional world – you name it, I had an adversary for nearly every major transition of my existence. I chose some of them; some of them chose me. I figured this was the natural way of things – like Darwin’s law enacted in real-life scenarios. Some people were just “out to get me” and I needed to get them first, if I could.

Not surprisingly, I found this type of life to be exhausting; chock full of missteps and empty victories. For example, spending so much time in rival mode can make a person into the thing he hates most: an enemy. I was a friend to many and had a best friend of my own, but how was I treating strangers? Was I someone I’d want to be friends with? Seems like a weird question to ask, but ask it of yourself. Then be honest with the answer. You may be shocked by what you discover.

A mentor of mine once said, “Enemies will let you trip and fall on the sword, but a true friend will have the courage to stop you where you are and tell you the direction you are headed is the wrong one.” 

In other words, being a great friend means taking risks with the people you love the most. You don’t even have to be best friends; just start with being a friend, first. I know many who have fallen into a less-than-admirable category – myself included. Preferring to sit on the sidelines, preferring to show up when things are good or when consult is easy; preferring to shy away from the encouragement necessary to see their friend succeed. That doesn’t sound like a “friendship” at all – one that’s reliance on conditions doesn’t hold the weight of a real bond. Over time, you may begin to see the line between friend and enemy become blurred. The primary reason for the confusion? Friends are interested in seeing each other succeed; they enjoy it when their friends have won something, beaten the odds, or conquered a major trial in life. But an enemy? They’d rather have things stay the way they are – comfortable, yet uncomfortable. Content, yet discontented. Continue to be identified in a narrow scope of existence, blinded from the possibilities of a broader horizon. They adhere to routine, no matter how juvenile or stagnate that routine may be.

I hope and pray my enemies become fewer and my friends grow greater. I will certainly find more opposition, but it’s not a future I must look forward to; only prepare. To be stuck in that old thought cycle of “they’re out to get me” sucks too much life from me. And I’d love to have more life if I can get it.


  1. We all wish to get few enemies and more good friends! Good article

  2. Great article! I love the positive shift you’re making toward so called enemies. Just think of how their mindset might change by sending a selfless act their way. We could all benefit from reading this post. Thanks!

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