Close Friends

(Written especially for young people)

DO you hang out with a certain group of friends? If you do, you probably spend a lot of time together--at school, after school, and talking on the phone! There are things you laugh about that only you and your best friends understand. You probably dress a lot alike. Talk alike. Agree about most everything.

What do you do when the people you've spent so much time with, the people you have more fun with than anyone else, do things that you are sure just can't be too smart? I was in a store with my best friends--guys I'd known for years--and they stole these earrings to give to some girls. My stomach felt pretty weak when they showed the earrings to me. I knew that in the eyes of the police just being with these guys when they were stealing made me guilty too. And somehow I felt that if I went along with them

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this time, I'd get used to feeling guilty and wouldn't care at all about honesty anymore. I started feeling pretty bad about this.

These were the guys I spent almost all of my spare time with--my parents even told me that I spent too much time with them! We helped each other do things, we played sports together, we joked and laughed with each other all the time. What would I do every day without them? Now, all of a sudden things were different. They just didn't understand how I felt about being honest.

You can tell that honesty is important to me. At the church I go to, the Christian Science church, I've learned this: ``Honesty is spiritual power. Dishonesty is human weakness, which forfeits divine help." Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Christian Science Church, wrote that in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, and I believe it. Divine help means God's help. What I've been learning about God's help has made me interested in what the Bible says about Christ Jesus--and what Jesus tho ught was most important for people to think about.

Once he said, ``Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." This is one of the Beatitudes, and it's in the Bible in Matthew's Gospel. Righteousness is a word people don't use that much today. But it still matters. Someone who hungers after righteousness is a person who wants to be very fair and just, and who really tries to do what is right. To me, honesty is part of being fair and just and doing what is right for other people--and for me too. I think I'm a s hungry to learn about God--and honesty--as I sometimes am for a cheeseburger! Well, even more than a cheeseburger! And because ``honesty is spiritual power," I know God wants it for me.

And what God wants for me is exactly what I want, really. So I decided that even if my friends were messing up, I wasn't going to be part of it. I decided that I'd stay away from them until they stopped stealing. I don't think I'm any better than they are, I just think honesty is more important than the approval of these friends, and as hard as it seemed, even their companionship.

And believe me, they thought I was a fool--and told me so. But guess what? When they gave the earrings to those girls at a party that night, the girls figured out that the earrings were stolen. One of them started to cry. My friends decided to take them back to the store the next day.

My friends and I are still pretty close. I hang out with only a couple of them now--the ones who don't try to force me to do things I don't want to do. I also have new friends that I respect and really have fun with. I still talk with my other friends, and when they're through trying and doing things that aren't so smart, I'm sure we'll be just as close as ever.

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