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Column: GET HIGH ON LIFE

By Harold Keller / L’Observateur / April 6, 1998

HOW MANY REAL, TRUE FRIENDS DO YOU HAVE?

As I was walking early Thursday morning and thinking about what to write for my article, my first inclination was to write about the Paula Jones and Bill Clinton lawsuit. But I think most people are tired of hearing aboutthat soap opera.

Approaching the end of my walk, still thinking of an idea for an article, someone pulled up alongside of me and said, “Hi, handsome!” I immediately knew this person was speaking to me. (Joke.) It was Chris Eichhorn. “Hi,fellow,” he continued. “How’s it going?” “Pretty good, Chris,” was myresponse. “I’ve been on Sugar Busters for a week,” I continued, “and I feelgood.” “Man, I need to start exercising,” Chris said.We briefly talked about a few of our political buddies, his business, the upcoming Justice of the Peace race, and his wife and children.

As we parted, I said, “Chris, I really appreciate your friendship.” Hisresponse startled me a little. “Man, I consider it a gift!” he said. “I loveyou,” were his last words.

If you don’t know Chris, let me briefly describe him. Chris is an ex-Marine,sounds tough, looks tough, and I’m sure wouldn’t back down to anyone. (Askmy friend, Councilman Dale Wolfe, if you don’t believe me.)Is Chris tough? No. In fact, he’s a marshmallow. (That’s a compliment.) Inother words, he has a big, soft heart.

I began thinking about our friendship.

It started six years ago at a meeting one morning at Airline Motors. Hewas offended by an article I had just written about annulments. He let meknow his disapproval, in no uncertain terms.

From that day, Chris and I had a special relationship. I came to know hislovely wife, Jill, and their two precious children, Robbie and Lindsey. Inever run into Chris that he doesn’t give me a hug.

Thursday morning, after that meeting, I suddenly realized that even though we don’t see each other often, and seldom if ever do we socialize, Chris is one of my best friends. Only in God’s world does this make sense.I am reminded of what the Bible says about a friend in Proverbs 18:24 – ” A man who has friends must himself be friendly.”You might ask, “What is a friend?” Someone gave me this description a few years ago.

“Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer. Friends knock before they enter, not after they leave. A friendis a person who can step on your toes without messing up your shine.

Friends care. They can laugh with you and cry with you and not beembarrassed to do either one. Friends are honestly interested ineverything about you, and you can trust them with the most private information in the world. Friends want you to be closer to Jesus than tothem. Friends are those who speak to you when others won’t. A friend isone who knows all your faults, but likes you because of your heart.”You may be asking yourself, “How many friends do I actually have?” It might be better to concentrate on how many people you are befriending.

Chris made me realize that friendship is truly a gift.

Harold Keller is a regular columnist for L’Observateur.

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