BY MICHEAL WEST
WHEN the Holy Bible admonishes that “Do not trust in a friend; do not put your confidence in a companion” (Micah 7: 5a), it looks like a divisive statement but the essence of this scriptural counsel has dawned on many people who are currently nursing the wounds sustained through blind trust in supposed friends, companions and confidantes.
There are three categories of friends: the true, loyal and dependable friends, the passive friends who have no evil or good value addition to your life, and, fair-weather friends who pretend to be your loyal friends only when they benefit from their friendship or association with you.
The latter category is the worst type of friends. They are sly, not dependable, they can switch camp and allegiance the moment you’re down. They are bold to lie against you and confront you with their lies. It is easy for people to believe them because they know them as your friends. They gossip, disparage and gleefully betray your trust without thinking twice. These category of friends have wreaked many lives, homes, businesses, associations, friendships and sabotaged great opportunities.
A woman lost her home to her single mother friend due to carelessness and taking to misleading pieces of advice. Another woman discovered that her younger sister was carrying a baby for her husband. It happened because both of them shared everything about their husbands with those who displaced them. While the traitors are shameless, covetous and inordinately selfish, the victims had reaped the fruits of indiscretion and indiscipline. There should be a limit to what a mature woman should share about her family. These are classic cases of betrayal. It succeeded because the secrets at their disposal were deployed to unseat the women.
Betrayal is a breach of trust, abuse of confidence and friendship gone bad! Not a few people have unpleasant stories to tell about one form of act of betrayal or the other by those they wholly depended upon as true friends. Real friendship is tested when the going gets tough, when the situation appears uncertain and when a glimmer of hope disappears on the horizon.
You will know a true friend when everyone turns against you and heaps blames on you; it is only your true friend that will identify with you. When contrived scandal, blackmail and false accusation or allegation is hanging on your neck, it is your true friend that will believe your story and watch your back even when you own up to a wrongdoing.
Your true friend sees an innocent offender in your guilty state while others see a criminal in you. A true friend will undertake to stand for you and receive bullets for your sake. A true friend will share in your grief, burden and failure. A true friend is known by how he/she responds to you and your situation in periods of needs, challenges and troubles.
The utterances of a true friend could be frank, harsh and critical about your action or conduct but it is uttered in love and not in your absence to denigrate you or complicate your situation.
True friends are difficult to identify when you are comfortable. Everyone will claim to be your bosom friend when they have some benefits they enjoy associating with you. When you have money or in position of power or influence, you will have all manner of friends milling around you. Conversely, the moment the honeycomb stops dripping and wine bottles are empty, human traffic to your place will cease. Your phone lines will scarcely ring in hours.
When you innocently fall victim of treacherous machinations or manipulations and you are accused of an offence you did not commit, when your children become helpless and vulnerable and your wife solicits support for the family needs, it is then you will know true friends. Don’t be amazed that beneficiaries of your kindness will be asking your wife out as a condition to help.
Nasty and unfounded stories about you will be told by those you think are your friends. Fret not about such people, those are the character traits of fair-weather friends. Don’t be surprised to see them resume friendship with you when you recover. They are shameless lot.
Friendship is the strongest and simplest form of relationship. Even in conjugal relationship, friendship is the bedrock of every working, lasting and happy marriage. Every fruitful interpersonal relationship is anchored on friendship.
However, acts of betrayal have done incalculable damages to many relationships. In marriage for example, it is a common occurrence that spouses do betray themselves on the altar of infidelity. This is also responsible for the heartbreaking cases of why several DNA results are turning negative. Likewise, some women receive the shock of their lives during the funeral of their late husbands as children from unknown women with striking semblance are presented to the bereaved family.
We are quite familiar with that phenomenon. Either of the two are morally wrong and disappointing. It takes a forgiving heart to stay in such a marital relationship.
Unfortunately, not a few people have died untimely due to treacherous and murderous propensity of greedy and heartless business partners who wished to corner the entire proceeds of their transactions. It is not limited to business partners alone, some wicked clients or customers do kill their creditors to evade payment.
A car dealer was assassinated by assassins who trailed him on a motorcycle from his office and shot him at a close range at the gate of his house. It was believed that one of his customers that bought cars at hired purchase might have orchestrated the dastardly act. Till date, no arrest has been made. To team up with anybody in business partnership, watch carefully, profile the person and pray about it.
The act of betrayal that hurts the most is when secrets you shared in strict confidence and total trust become tools or weapons of attack, blackmail or ridicule during a quarrel. In many instances, such friends rarely stay in friendship thereafter. It is a destructive attitude that must be dealt with in every relationship. The attitude is common with women, and it has broken up many homes. It is the same reason some men refuse to tell their wives the ‘whole story’ they ask to know. Women are fond of rubbing painful past stories or secrets on the faces of their husbands or estranged friends in angry moments.
A woman fell out with her closest friend over a weekly contribution. The issue turned messy such that bitterness and malice crept in. Mrs. AB started revealing some private issues and secrets pertaining to Mrs. CD’s husband. So, people were expecting her to also expose AB’s secrets but she didn’t utter a word.
Her neighbours told her that her estranged friend said those things in order to destroy her home. Therefore they urged her to join the fray by revealing AB’s secrets, too. But rather than engage in a tit-for-tat game with her bitter friend, she kept quiet and walked away.
When asked why she refused to talk, she simply said “I won’t do that. She told me those things in confidence because she trusted me. Because she revealed some things I shared about my family with her does not intimidate my psyche. There was no quarrel when she told me. Whatever she has said about me does not matter. That’s her own level of understanding. When this face-off is over, what will she say or do about what she has spewed out about me?”
• West wrote via firstname.lastname@example.org