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Having friends is a blast. You enjoy the good times and feel loved. You might even think you have a lot of them.

And then life goes south… You might need a helping hand or someone to talk to. Those “friends” are nowhere near. They leave at the drop of a dime and you’ve got no support.

Having true friends is about more than the good times. If you only focus on your friends in the good, you’ll never have people around for the bad.

In this episode, you’ll discover the meaning of true friendship in life (and the people you always want by your side).

Show Highlights Include:

  • How to avoid shallow acquaintances and find genuine friendship that lasts a lifetime. (0:40)
  • How to tell if you have a “blessing” of a best friend (or someone who’ll leave at the drop of a dime). (4:12)
  • Why having a ‘Haywood’ friendship gets you through your most difficult times. (6:30)
  • What a eulogy reveals about the perspective of true friendship. (9:46)

Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Click here to get the first chapter of Dr. Rick’s best-selling book, Lessons From a Third Grade Dropout, for free.

Read Full Transcript

Welcome to “How You Living?” a transformative podcast featuring best-selling author, inspirational speaker and minister, Dr. Rick Rigsby—and, now, Dr. Rick.

Dr. Rigsby: Hello, friends. Thank you so very much for tuning in today. I want to talk to you about the value of friendship, very specifically, true friendship. There is a difference.

I recall being at a party years ago when someone said something in jest that was rather embarrassing to me. I was the butt of the insult and everyone laughed. I even laughed, but it stung. The comment went something like this. “Then there's Rigsby. He'll have five best friends before the end of the night.” Everybody got a good laugh. [01:00.4]

Now, I need to tell you there was no ill will with these folks. They're all genuine people. They are good folks. But the comments stung probably because there was some truth to it. I make friends easily. I've never met a stranger. I also have to be very honest with you. In my twenties and thirties, I loved having lots of what I called best friends.

My personality tends to go too fast and too soon regarding the level of friendship. However, over the years, I have discovered that this has changed. As I have experienced the trials and tribulations of life, identifying true friends can be rather eye-opening, wouldn't you agree?

As you look around, you see how many true friends are with you in the good times and in the bad times. You tend to value the level of that friendship based on whether people are willing to stick around when the chips are down. Anybody can be with you when you're soaring high, but when you're in a valley, when you're in the midst of the fog, look around and see who your true friends really are. [02:16.2]

I remember, as a young television reporter, some 40 years ago, I had many best friends … or so I thought. I remember leaving television to go back to graduate school and many of those so-called best friends vanished. I've not seen most of them since.

I think what I've learned about true friendship can be summed up in this saying that I came across by a person named Erin Lamb. She said these words: “I used to offer anyone friendship. I no longer do so. I’m friendly to all, but friends with few.” [02:58.7]

I have learned over the years, folks, that true friendship requires time. It requires the tests of time. You've got to go through the good and bad times with that person. It takes time to build trust. It takes time to learn patience. It takes time to process feelings and emotions. It takes time to develop a deep love that is truly genuine.

You see, earlier in life, I gave in to the superficiality of quick friendship. I was used, but I was also a user. I loved lots of best friends, almost using friendship as if it were nothing more than a commodity. You see, that's what many do in an outcome-oriented, consumer-driven culture, and I bought right into that type of culture. It seemed to me to be sort of a badge of honor, some kind of distinction to have many best friends. [04:05.8]

Then something happened to me as a young man. It was in my mid-thirties. I was 35 years old to be exact. That's when my wife, my first wife, the mother of my two sons, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was diagnosed with such a vicious disease that we were in a valley. We were in a fog. We were literally in the struggle of a life.

I realized after Trina lost her six-year battle with that disease, things changed, changed in a dramatic way. When you experience a life changing trauma, everything is evaluated. No stone remains unturned. I discovered that I became more courageous with my feelings. I was more honest with myself. I was forced to grow up. [05:03.2]

I noticed that during the years of Trina's illness, a couple of things happen. Many of my so-called best friends were nowhere to be found. They were good people. They were sincere folks. They just weren't best friends. Secondly, my true friends, very few, walked with me and my boys every step of the way, from the oncology department to the hospital, to the graveyard. True friendship is a mutual stewarding of the other's heart and time, while that other stewards yours as well. That's the kind of quality that produces value. [05:48.0]

With some three decades to reflect on the sudden departure of my true friends, I've come to this conclusion. If you have one true friend in life, it's a blessing. If you have a few true friends, it's a miracle. It has been said that a good friend calls you in jail. A great friend bails you out of jail. But your best friend sits next to you in jail and says, Now, wasn't that fun? How many friends do you have like that?

Let me tell you about a couple of my true friends, Haywood and Noreen. We met Haywood and Noreen in 1992 when we moved from Central California to College Station, Tex. It was at Texas A&M, where I would continue my career as a college professor.

We met Haywood and Noreen in a very intimate way on the telephone. When they found out that we were moving to this community, they wanted to welcome us, and when they discovered that our home wouldn't be ready for a few weeks, they graciously allowed them to live with them and their daughters. Their daughters were the same ages as our sons. [07:10.4]

We became immediate friends. We just connected at every single level. We became part of their family. They became part of our family. As a matter of fact, Haywood's mother moved from Southern California to watch Haywood and Noreen's children. You see, both Haywood and Noreen are physicians and the demands on their time required assistance in caring for the children.

Not only did Mama Robinson care for her grandchildren, but she cared for ours as well, and she had a special, special place in her heart for Trina who was struggling with chemotherapy treatments. Our families just melded together. They were always with us. We were always with them. [08:01.5]

Then came 1996, the worst year of my life. That's the year that Trina passed away, and following Trina's passing, Haywood and Noreen, and the girls and Mama Robinson, were right there with us. In fact, Haywood never left my side. I recall many nights after Trina's passing that Haywood would come to my house and we would watch television. The only thing was the television wasn't on. I was crying and he was sitting there.

Friends, let me pause and tell you something. You don't learn this in grief counseling. You don't learn this in a seminary class. You don't learn this in a graduate class. This has to be learned experientially. I learned how to deal with people who are suffering from my true friend, Haywood Robinson. You see, you don't have to be a poet. You don't have to pontificate like Aristotle or Plato. Just be near the person who's going through something. That will give that grieving heart a tremendous sense of comfort. [09:12.5]

Haywood rarely said a word on those evening visits, but just knowing he was there was the comfort that I desperately, desperately needed. Over the months, Haywood and Noreen would challenge me to keep living. Noreen would remind me of my father's words to just stand, to not quit, to keep going, to keep living.

As a matter of fact, I often joke that Haywood and Noreen knew my future wife, Janet, even before I did, for, you see, Noreen was Janet's doctor, and a couple of years after Trina's passing, we all celebrate me and Janet's wedding—and who's right by our sides? Haywood and Noreen. In fact, Haywood was one of my groomsmen. [10:03.8]

A few months ago, Noreen got sick and would eventually pass away. I recently spoke at my godsister's memorial service, telling the gathering that it's a great loss to humanity when an authentically good person passes away, and it's a great loss personally when a true friend passes away.

When I think about Noreen's amazing life, I, like so many others, can offer tributes all day long, but, truthfully, there are no words to describe Noreen. No words to describe that smile, her genuine concern, her compassionate heart, not just as a physician, but as a person. No words to describe her zest for life and her passion for her Jesus. [11:01.8]

I ended my remarks during her memorial service with his quote that I love. I said, “Make writing your letter of recommendation easy. Make writing your eulogy impossible.”

And, now, friends, my true friend, Haywood, is a widower. He's in the same spot where I was 25 years ago, and I promised Haywood then and I reaffirmed that promise now that, just like he was there for me, I will never, ever, ever leave his side, because, friends, that's what true friends do. If you have one true friend, it is a blessing. If you have more than one, it's a miracle. [11:57.7]

I've lived a miraculous life. I've had more than one true friend. One is in heaven, waiting for the rest of us, and I pledge to be the truest of friends to my buddy, Haywood. It is a privilege to sit with him in the valley, knowing that one day he too will climb out. Let's commit to treasuring the few true friends that we have, and be that true friend to another.

That's going to do it for this episode. Until we meet again, this is Dr. Rick, asking the most important question I can ask, how you livin’? [12:45.5]

Are you ready to make an impact in your world right now? Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Dr. Rick wants to give you the first chapter of his bestselling book, “Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout”, absolutely free. Just go to www.RickRigsby.com/FreeGift to get the print or audiobook right now.

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