Spiritual Messages and Teachings for LDS Youth and Youth Leaders

A True Friend

By: Ardeth Green Kapp

From the book: I Walk by Faith

Do you remember back when you were in the fourth grade? If you had been in my class right after lunch, we would have had a fifteen-minute story time, unless the story was so exciting that you pleaded to go on just a little further. Then it might have lasted twenty minutes, and on Friday afternoon, if it had been a good week, maybe even half an hour or so.

One of my favorite books to share with my students was Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White. If you have read that book, you will remember that Charlotte is the spider and Wilbur is the pig. Poor Wilbur has some very hard times and often feels alone and discouraged. On one dreary rainy day, we read, he felt so “friendless, dejected, and hungry, he threw himself down in the manure and sobbed.”

Have you ever had a Wilbur day? A day when you felt that alone and discouraged? Let me remind you of how Wilbur was rescued from his sad plight. He was visited by his dear friend Charlotte, the spider whom he didn’t like at all when he first met her. But over the years he discovered a true friend in Charlotte, one who was willing to save his life by tirelessly spinning a beautiful web with a message that would let people know this was no ordinary pig. Even Wilbur began to believe he was something special because his friend told him he was.

At the end of the season, Charlotte knew that a spider’s life is short and that she would not be around in the spring to comfort her friend Wilbur. She wanted to help prepare him for the future so he would learn to look for the good things and not be discouraged and lonesome. Charlotte spoke softly to her friend Wilbur: “Winter will pass, the days will lengthen, the ice will melt in the pasture pond. The song sparrow will return and sing, the frogs will awake, the warm wind will blow again. All these sights and sounds and smells will be yours to enjoy, Wilbur, this lovely world, these precious days . . .”

Charlotte stopped, and a tear came to Wilbur’s eye. “Oh, Charlotte,” he said. “To think that when I first met you I thought you were cruel and bloodthirsty!”

When he recovered from his emotion, he spoke again.

“Why did you do all this for me?” he asked. “I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.”

“You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte. “That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”

“Well,” said Wilbur. “I’m no good at making speeches. I haven’t got your gift for words. But you have saved me, Charlotte, and I would gladly give my life for you—I really would.” (E. B. White, Charlotte’s Web, New York: Harper & Row, p. 164.)

Would you be willing to save a friend? Can you tell when a friend feels “friendless, dejected, and hungry,” bad enough to throw herself down in a manure pile and sob? Some people do that, you know—not in the manure pile in the barnyard, like Wilbur the pig, but in the waste and filth of the world because they feel worthless, good for nothing. At times like this, we all need a friend, one who will tell us how special we are, one who will remind us of what President George Q. Cannon tells us:

“Now, this is the truth. We humble people, we who feel ourselves sometimes so worthless, so good-for-nothing, we are not so worthless as we think. There is not one of us but what God’s love has not been expended upon. There is not one of us that He has not cared for and caressed. There is not one of us that He has not desired to save and that He has not devised means to save. There is not one of us that He has not given His angels charge concerning. We may be insignificant and contemptible in our own eyes and in the eyes of others, but the truth remains that we are the children of God and that He has actually given His angels—invisible beings of power and might—charge concerning us, and they watch over us and have us in their keeping.” (Gospel Truth, Deseret Book, 1974, p. 2.)

If you saw a friend in trouble what would you do? Read what one child did, as reported in a newspaper story:

“Brian Diaz, five years old, said he saw a neighborhood chum, three-year-old Andre Romero, enter the backyard of a vacant neighborhood home where there was a swimming pool.

“‘I followed him because I knew it was dangerous there,’ Brian, a Phoenix, Ariz., kindergarten student, said. ‘He was carrying a teddy bear, and then the first thing I knew, he fell in the deep end of the pool.’

“Brian said he lay down by the side of the pool, grabbed Andre by the hand, and pulled him out of the water onto the concrete decking. He said that Andre was heavy and that he almost fell in too. ‘When he got out,’ Brian said, ‘it was like he was dead for a minute. He didn’t say anything, and his lips turned blue. That water must be cold.’

“Brian put his hand on Andre’s stomach and then pushed down as he had seen on T.V. ‘Water came out of his mouth,’ Brian continued, ‘and then he threw up and started to cry.'”

A neighbor heard the cries and jumped the fence, then went to alert fire department paramedics. They treated Andre at the scene. The fire captain said that Brian “undoubtedly saved Andre’s life.” (Deseret News, March 3, 1985.)

Would you be willing to save a friend’s life? Sometimes that means calling for help, like the spiritual paramedics, those who have the love and concern but also the power and the authority to give blessings, comfort, and encouragement when people find themselves in trouble in the deep end of the pool, so to speak.

Following a talk at a youth conference, after everyone had shaken hands and few people were still around, I noticed one young woman standing some distance away. She had been waiting for a moment when she might speak in private. Together we moved away from the others into the seats near the rear of the chapel. The young woman, who was about fifteen, was serious and thoughtful. “I have a friend who is in bad trouble,” she said. “She really needs help. What can I do?”

142“Does your friend know that you know about her problem?” I asked.

“Oh, yes, she knows, but she would kill me if she ever thought that I told on her.”

“How badly do you want to help her?” I asked.

“Well, somebody has to help her or she’s going to make things even worse,” she explained, “but what can I do? I’m not going to tell on a friend.”

I was impressed with her sense of loyalty and her commitment to keep a confidence, but it was obvious that she also felt some responsibility for her friend, who was apparently in deep water over her head and perhaps even drowning. After some discussion, without her divulging any confidences, I asked several questions. It was evident that her friend was caught in the waste places of the world, in a manure pile like Wilbur, the friendless, dejected pig.

“If your friend were drowning, would you be willing to call a lifeguard? Or would you let her sink to the bottom of the pool rather than let anyone know she was in danger?”

“I’d call for help if she was drowning,” the young woman said. “But I promised I wouldn’t tell on her. She doesn’t want people to know.”

“Do you think she can keep her problem a secret forever? And if she could, is that what would be best for her?”

The young woman, thinking the situation through, said, “I think some people already know. Her parents must know something is wrong, but she won’t talk to them. She just talks to me.”

“In that case, you are carrying a tremendous responsibility on your young shoulders,” I explained. “You need help because the weight will increase as you see your friend losing ground. I recommend that you seek help for yourself. Do you have a chance to talk to your bishop?” I asked.

“Sometimes,” she said.

“Would you feel comfortable calling him and just telling him you have something you’d like to talk to him about?”

“Oh, I’ve never called the bishop. I don’t know.”

I realized that it would take a bit of courage for a young woman to call and make an appointment with her bishop, especially if she hadn’t already had an opportunity to become friends with him. Her hesitation prompted another approach.

“How would you feel if I called and made an appointment with your bishop for you?”

“What would you say?” she asked. “I don’t want the bishop to think I’m in trouble.”

“I would assure him that you are not in trouble, but that you have a heavy responsibility and that you are striving to be a saint, a true disciple of our Heavenly Father. I would tell him that you want to be a true friend and to do only what is right, and you need his guidance. Now, you could talk to your parents or your friends or others, but the reason to call the bishop is because he is the one who can best help in times of serious problems, and you have a serious problem—a friend in desperate need of help.”

Together we agreed that I would call the bishop and make the appointment for her.

“And what shall I tell him?” was her next question.

“Well,” I suggested, “before you go for your appointment, talk to your Father in heaven about your friend. He already knows of her problem, and he still loves her very much. He wants her to be safe, and because she is your friend, he will guide you by giving you a feeling of peace in your heart about what you should tell the bishop and still keep the confidence and be a true friend.

“You might decide to tell the bishop that you have a friend you are concerned about and give him her name. That’s like calling in the lifeguard to the rescue. When he asks you why you’re concerned, you can tell him that you think she needs help and that you’re trying to help her, but it’s a big responsibility and you need help to know what you should do. If the bishop asks what kind of a problem your friend has, then you can be true to her and explain that the things she has shared with you are confidential. You can tell him, however, that you would be grateful if he would just call her in and talk to her as he does a lot of the other young people on their birthdays and at other times.” I assured her that if she went with a prayer in her heart and a sincere concern for her friend, the words would come into her mind and she would know what to say and also what not to say.

Two weeks later I received a telephone call. It was the young woman who was concerned about her friend.

“Do you have a minute to talk?” she asked.

I sure do,” I said, anxious to get a report concerning the heavy responsibility she was carrying.

“Well,” she began in a happy voice, “I talked to my bishop, and he really understood. He really wanted to help, and he didn’t ask me to tell on my friend. He just asked if I thought my friend would come with me to visit with him sometime that week. He said he was talking to a lot of young people in the ward and wanted to talk to us. When I explained this to my friend, she was a bit hesitant and asked me if I had told the bishop about what she had done. I assured her that I had not. She decided that if I would go, she would go with me. It was almost as if she wanted help but wouldn’t admit it.”

She paused a moment, then continued. “We went to the bishop’s office. It was kind of scary at first, but I knew we were doing the right thing. As soon as we walked in, the bishop shook hands with each of us. He was so warm and friendly, like nothing was the matter. Then he sat down beside us and began to tell us, without mentioning any names, the concern he has for some of the youth in our ward. When we looked into his eyes, we could feel his love for them and for us too. It was like he really cared. It was more like talking to a friend than talking to the bishop.

“The bishop told us about some of the problems that give him concern,” she said, “and he asked for our suggestions and our help. Then he talked to us about how much he loves the youth, and how much our Father in heaven loves the youth, and how hard it is when Satan is working like never before to destroy each of us. I looked over at my friend and she began to cry. The bishop talked to us some more and taught us about repentance and forgiveness and how we can in time with enough effort overcome our weaknesses with the Lord’s help, providing we are willing to do what he asks.

“When we were ready to leave, the bishop thanked us for coming in, and he told us that if we ever wanted to talk to him again or alone, he would be happy to spend some time with us. My friend was still crying. ‘Would you like to talk to the bishop alone?’ I asked her. She nodded her head. The bishop gave me a copy of the New Era and asked me to wait in the chapel while they talked. I sat there in the chapel waiting and praying that my friend would be able to tell the bishop all the things she had told me so that she could get the help she needed and so I wouldn’t have to carry the load of knowing her problems all by myself. It seemed like she was there for quite a while, but I didn’t mind waiting. I knew someone had come to the rescue of my friend. It was like Heavenly Father was there with us, and everything was going to work out if we worked together.

“That’s what happened,” she said, “when I called for help to save my friend.”

I asked, “And how do you feel?”

“Wonderful,” she said. “I feel that I have helped save my friend.”

“Yes,” I responded, in the words of Charlotte the spider, “you have been a friend and ‘that in itself is a tremendous thing.'” Then I thought I could hear her friend respond to her in the words of Wilbur the pig: “You have saved me, Charlotte, and I would gladly give my life for you—I really would.”

I like the words of a song by Michael McLean, titled “Be That Friend”:

Your friends know what’s right, and your friends know what’s wrong,
And your friends all know sometimes it’s hard to choose,
But the friend who helps you see where the choices will lead
Is the kind of friend you never want to lose.

It’s that friend who leads with love, doesn’t push, doesn’t shove,
Just reminds you of the truth you’ve always known,
Then does more than just talk, takes your hand and starts to walk
By your side, along the road that leads back home;

And this friend seems to see all the great things you’ll be,
Even when some things you do would prove him wrong,
But he always believes that the real you he sees
Is a champion he’s simply cheering on.

The love that you feel from a friend who’s this real
Is as powerful as anything on earth.
For it lifts and it grows and it strengthens and flows,
It’s what allows a soul to feel just what it’s worth.

So many lonely souls are calling
And our brightest stars would not be falling
If only they had a friend, a real friend.
Everyone hopes to find one true friend
Who’s the kind they can count on forever and a day.
Be that friend; be that kind that you’ve prayed you might find.
And you’ll always have a best friend, come what may.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>