Free Photo from MorgueFile What’s in a friend?

Mindy, and I met for lunch at Dairy Queen. She was the only one from our class besides Lorraine that I’d kept in contact with over the years.

In between bites of grilled chicken salad, I filled her in on the incident at the reunion and my newest job offer. I thought she’d make some joke about my stumbling to help me put it in perspective. But instead, she looked thoughtful. When she spoke, she focused on my new job.

“You’ll do fine. You have excellent Spanish skills. It’s like anything else that’s gotten rusty. It’ll come back when you use it again. Meet with that teacher, get the book, and brush up on the grammar.”

I nodded. If only it were that easy.

Mindy chased a stray piece of chicken into the honey mustard dressing and speared it with her fork. “Now what about that other job, the one you landed last May at the new college in town?”

I sighed. “Yeah, that’s another problem. It’s teaching Asian Studies. I’m not an expert. But the director thinks I have a good enough background to teach it since I lived in that part of the world for so many years.”

“Good for you.”

I took a sip of water. “She trusts that I’ll do the class justice. It’s a required course for freshmen. I’m still putting the syllabus together.”

“You’ll do a great job,” she said, waving hello to someone she recognized at another table.

“I hope so.”

Teaching at an American college intimidated me. College students here seemed too informal and didn’t seem to respect their teachers.

I shared my fears with Mindy.

“You’ve got all that experience to fall back on. You lived there. You know about several cultures in Asia. It’ll be a breeze for you.”

“Yeah, you’re right.”

Mindy looked at her watch and snapped the plastic lid on her empty salad container. She looked over at me. “Just have fun with it. They’re only freshmen.”

“I know,” I said, laughing. I stood up, smoothed my shorts and lifted my purse strap from the back of the chair.

As we walked into the bright sunlight, I shielded my eyes and stopped, waiting for them to adjust.

Mindy watched me. “Your classes are going to be a huge challenge. You’ll be teaching little kids to high school to college-age, all at the same time.” She whistled. “Wow!”

“I know.” They’re all new situations, too.

She backed out of the parking lot. “You know, Amy, if you’re going to teach here, you’re going to have to make some decisions. I’m going to tell you something that you probably don’t want to hear. But you need to know.”

I bit my lip. I hated it when she used that tone.

“You live in a small town now, whether you like it or not. If you want to keep a paying job here—you’re not making much money off your writing—you’re going to have to be careful of your reputation. You don’t want to have your students thinking their teacher’s the town drunk. You need to look into getting a cane or something.”

“It’s not that bad. No one knows.”

“Amy, listen. It is that bad. People may not know what is wrong, but they definitely know something is. You’re in denial.”

I stiffly reached for the door handle and avoided her steady gaze.

“I didn’t want to tell you but at the reunion, some of our classmates asked me if you had Multiple Sclerosis because you were so unsteady on your feet. Another one thought you might have a neurological condition. And, of course, that one classmate asked me how long you’d had your ‘drinking’ problem.”

I gasped. “Really? Tom didn’t just think I was drunk that night. He thought I had a drinking problem? I can’t stand it when people jump to conclusions.”

“Did you hear what the others thought?” She tried to catch my eye. “When you don’t tell people and they notice something out-of-synch, they’re going to think: worst case scenario.”

I flinched, one hand on the door handle, the other instinctively going to my forehead. Everything was so complicated!

“What happened at the reunion is going to happen again, but this time with more serious consequences. You can’t afford to have anyone think the wrong thing. Call someone. Call that specialist who diagnosed you with your eye problem. Just. Get. Help.”

Nice way to use my own words against me.  Everything suddenly seemed overwhelmingly complicated. “Min–”

She turned into my driveway and let the car idle. “Promise me you will.”

“I don’t know. It’s….”

“Just do it.”


Being a real friend is difficult. It means knowing when to back away and when to zero in on problems. A friend is a cheerleader and also one who holds up a mirror to reflect the situation as it really is. Being honest and tactful don’t always go hand-in-hand.  My friend “Mindy” does it well. Even when I don’t like what she says,  she continues to speak. It’s rare that a friends knows how to juggle all these roles effectively.

What about you? What one friend has caused you to look at your situation as it really was? Or has been a cheerleader in your life?  What qualities do you appreciate in a friend? Share it in the comments below.

You have read “The Roles a Friend Plays,” a book excerpt from Mobility Matters Stepping out in Faith.If you Liked it, click Lick, Share and comment below.


The Roles a Friend Plays
Spread the love

12 thoughts on “The Roles a Friend Plays

  • September 24, 2014 at 2:39 am

    Yes, and I’m not so assertive. I’m not sure if I were in my friend’s place if I could have pushed her into doing something she didn’t seem ready for! When I was posting it, it really became clear all the different roles she took on even in just that one day, Dorit!

  • September 24, 2014 at 3:06 am

    Amy, I believe that relationship matter so much I’ve incorporated teaching people how to upgrade them. The best way to determine if your friend has your best interest in mind is to see what they do when you engage in self destructive behavior. A client told me it was time to upgrade when she realized she gained 50 pounds and no one said a word. Why? Because she became the “purse girl”.

    What’s the purse girl? She the friend who sits at the table and watches the purses while everyone else dances at the club. She’s the one who drives everyone home when men buy them too many drinks. If your friends don’t hold you to a standard of being healthy, building your self esteem and helping you achieve your goals, it’s time to upgrade.

  • September 24, 2014 at 3:24 am

    Hi Denise,
    Excellent points! Fortunately for me, my friend had all my best interests at heart!
    Thanks for your comment!

  • September 24, 2014 at 4:52 am

    Wow Amy! That sure must have been tough to hear those words: Ouch! They must have hurt you the way you were in denial, though understandably. It seems that even though they hurt you at the time, they were in your best interests ’cause she cared for you. I have had some pretty direct conversations with a friend of mine as I could see clearly the potentially messed-up life (wrong relationships) she was creating. However, I came to realize that she – any person – needs to be ready to hear it. Like you weren’t at the time to hear and receive your friend’s feedback. I admire honesty in a friendship as I think that will pay off in the end. 🙂 <3

  • September 24, 2014 at 5:15 am

    Yes, Elly, you are right on every count! It was hard to hear those words but I kind of knew in my heart she was right. My sister is another person who points things out to me and I don’t always like it but I listen. “Being ready” is such a process! It’s like accepting someone’s words but not the meaning behind them for awhile. LOL. But it means I am moving progressively towards them and … in time I’ll make it!

  • September 24, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    Amy Bovaird has proved to be a friend, mentor, cheerleader, and wise writing colleague—willing to give the tough critique when necessary! Such a spectrum of roles all wrapped up in one little package. Hee, hee! Great post and interactive thought question. Your teaching continues…in a slightly different form.

  • September 24, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story Amy. You have the best friend. I have a friend who does the same, I find it is hard pill to swallow at the moment when told but usually I ponder over it and find I have to agree and comply.

  • September 24, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    Thank you! The book proof came in!
    I’m so excited! I wish you were here and I could show it to you!!
    It looks beautiful, slightly bigger than I imagined. My mother says it is the perfect size!
    It’ll be just a few days now.
    Amy xx

  • September 24, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    Yes, I do. =)
    So glad you have a strong friend like that!
    We all need that kind of blunt, honest friend who can see through us.
    Thanks so much for reading and commenting on my post!

  • September 29, 2014 at 11:00 am

    I remember the evening so well. I met some friends for dinner after my first meeting with my vision counselor. She had asked me to come up with at least three things I struggled with. In my denial…I could not. She suggested that I ask a couple of friends what they thought. I did…and I was surprised. Most said things similar to: you seem to be having a little bit of trouble with curbs or door frames, or corners but one said she was afraid to tell me. Of course…I had to know. You could have heard a pin drop when she said “denial.” After a brief silence that seemed terminal, I had to laugh and applaud her courage. We are better friends than ever.

  • September 29, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience! That is such a difficult moment between friends, even when neither party talks about that conflict! To point out a truth or not? I think it’s a testament to and also a test of friendship. How much value is placed on that friend? Enough to risk hurting them for the better good? Like you, I had a couple of friends that forced me to face the situation and work toward change. Others can see it more than we can! I pray passages like this in my book will help others like us to not feel so alone. Or maybe it can even encourage someone to ask their friends what they think! I’m encouraged today!

Leave a Reply