In church last Sunday, our pastor mentioned something he often told to his children: “Friends are like an elevator. They’ll either take you up or take you down.”

Most of us only have a handful of true friends—the type who take you up the elevator. They’re the “2 a.m.” friends—the ones you know you can inconvenience, the ones you want to call with good news, the ones who celebrate over your children.

And they’re the ones who will tell you the truth when you ask for it . . . and maybe even when you don’t.

My friend Terri is one I can trust to tell me something straight. I know I can go to her for an objective view on a problem, even if it stings a little. One time, I wanted to pull out of a commitment I’d made at church because the leader in charge of the project was making terrible decisions. When I told Terri I was going to quit the committee, she frowned at me. “You’re not helping the situation by withdrawing,” she scolded.

Blast. Not what I wanted to hear.

But I hung in there. Looking back, Terri’s advice was spot on. The project was completed, and relationships remained intact. Had I pulled out, there would have been a lingering discomfort with the leader.

And then there are those friends who take you down the elevator. I don’t think we should avoid those kinds of friends—just be mindful of their effect. One of my friends, who has many lovely qualities and whom I dearly love, has a tendency to gossip. Subtly, it sneaks into the conversation, and suddenly I find myself listening to something I know I have no business knowing.

Down, down, down the elevator!

I’ve wondered how to handle this friendship and finally found the right response (because gently confronting her hasn’t worked): I pray before we meet together so I don’t slip down a path I shouldn’t be on. Friendships, I have found, need a little “recalibration” now and then.

How does friendship fit into the simple life? Think about that handful of special friends you have who take you “up the elevator.” There’s only so much time in life—I want to use it invest in those friends. And I want to work on being that kind of friend to my friends.

Enough about me. Here’s a question for you: How do your friends take you up the elevator?

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