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Attributes of an ideal companion

I just returned from a white-water rafting trip in the Appalachian Mountains with my father and brothers. The river was at times swift and treacherous. At others it was slow and scenic but always breezy and cold. Even though we were wearing full-length wetsuits, booties and rain jackets, my younger brother said he had never been so cold for so long in his life.

Our river guide was an easy-going surfer-type in his mid-30s with white hair down to his chest. The other guides called him Mustang. He knew every story, rock and hazard of the river and organized our group of inexperienced rafters into a united force. My dad gave him a generous tip for his leadership and good company.

Life often seems too bewildering and painful to face alone. I doubt we would have made it through the first set of category four rapids without Mustang’s guidance. Wouldn’t it be great if you had a guide to help you along the way? Someone like Mustang but for everything?

Here are a few of the attributes of the ideal life guide. He would:

• Choose to be around you instead of being forced
• Know everything about the trials you are facing and have experience facing similar situations himself
• Know everything about you – the good and the bad – and accept you anyway
• Teach you what you need to know and warn you away from any “meat grinder” experiences ahead
• Guide you toward the people and situations where you can make the greatest impact
• Act and believe himself to be your peer, not someone who is superior or inferior to you
• Go away when you want solitude
• Allow you to make terrible decisions
• Gently correct you when you are misguided or self-destructive
• Pick you up and inspire you to move forward when you cannot go any further
• Not condemn you for your mistakes – even if they are frequent and egregious
• Never give up on you, regardless of your imperfections and bad behavior
• Know how to heal the broken parts of you; mental, physical, spiritual and emotional

Have you found anyone like this in your life? Maybe a combination of people who can guide you in different ways? Maybe God?

Many have a deep desire for such a companion. We put undue pressure on parents, spouses, family members or close friends. We expect them to fill all our needs and then grow frustrated when they inevitably fall short. It is especially irritating when someone took care of us in the past but refuses to now. 

I find life more fulfilling when I am a good companion and not demanding the ideal companionship of those around me. I want to be someone who commits to family, friends and the community and who recommits after falling in turbulent waters. I hope you find good guides and try to be one yourself.  

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