>Stand By Me


I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone? [Stephen King – Stand By Me]

This has to be one of my favourite movies of all time. I had the opportunity to watch it again this past weekend and was struck by the fact that there are literally hundreds of coming of age stories from a Girls point of view but remarkably few about boys.

This time I watched it with my Dad, who was born in 1940. Although the film was set in 1959 and my dad is about 7 or 8 years older than the boys portrayed much of what they experienced would have been very similar to his own life. Hell, much of what I experienced 25 years later in 1984 was similar.

Boys are the same, generation after generation. As a result so are Men.

As the credits rolled my Dad cleared his throat in that way men in their 70s do when they are about to say something profound and said that he had read about a psychological study done a few years back that asked the question; “If you did something to completely screw up your life, do you have a friend who would stand by you, no matter what?” Over 90 percent of men said no.

Something happens when a boy becomes a man. He tends to become isolated from other men. Sure we have friends, or what could more accurately be described as colleagues, but we tend not to forge deep emotional bonds with one another that can withstand testing or trauma. It’s so pervasive in our society that it has become the butt of a lot of jokes. Quite simply men don’t talk about their feelings and therefore we don’t develop the same kind of emotional bonds that women do.

Why is that?

Psychologists, sociologist and anthropologists have wrestled with this question for years. Many people, much wiser and better educated than I, have written volumes on the subject. I’m not about to rehash that here. But I would like to think that if I completely screwed up my life, at least one person would stand by me.

Here’s how.

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. [Proverbs 27:17]

That verse from Proverbs has been quoted so many times by men’s bible study groups it has become cliché. But the message is an important one. Men need each other. The way we love isn’t soft and fuzzy, it’s iron on iron, it’s loud, it’s rough, and sometimes sparks fly.

I’ve experienced my share iron sharpening sessions. It’s never a pleasant experience but two men who truly love and respect one another can walk away from a knock ‘em down, drag ‘em out battle of wills both sharper for it and with a stronger, deeper bond than ever before. If I totally screwed up and needed someone to stand by me, I would hope they would at least respect me enough to call me on my bullshit first and help me to become sharper as a result.

To me the deep respect that the main characters have for one another regardless of their past, family situation or future prospects is the enduring message of Stand By Me.

Do you have anyone who will stand by you? When was the last time your iron was sharpened by a trusted friend?


  1. Lauren Sheil says:

    >From Tim via E-mail…Interesting stuff. Had never given it much thought but as I reflect I see have lived that isolation in the main. Childhood friendships are no longer that tight and the ones I have as an adult are kind off reserved. Most if not all the sharpening is a father-son affair. I remember 10 years ago I messed up big time all 'friends' dispersed, Dad was there to pick up the pieces and lead me to re-commit my life to God and start again on my career. We need the iron/other men to sharpen us but I guess many a times it is not from the ranks of our childhood/boyhood friends, college mates, or the professionals we meet as we earn our bread that we are sharpened. Had challenges posting a comment so I decided to forward this to you.

  2. Andrew33 says:

    >As an adult, I figure it this way: If you can count the number of real friends you have on one than more hand, you don't have any.If those friends aren't either Christian or supportive of one's Christianity, they aren't friends.I keep my friends in "circles". I have my parents and 3 really close friends. (my definition of "friend") is probably closest to David and Jonathan in the Bible. Then I have other friends that I know, and associate with but am not that close to. Even they are fellow Christians. Being a part of a political movement, I meet lots of people quite often. I keep my distance (emotionally) as they are non Christians and often do things I don't want to be associated with. That being said, I am not cold or rude to them, I just am careful until I get to know new people. People are often surprised when they find out I am a Christian because I and dress and look like the younger folks. I also have a low rider sports car that I actively race. When people see me having fun racing my car or such things and then discover my faith, they are often surprised, but I think it helps people to realize that they don't have to be a monk or wear a suit and a tie all day to be a Christian. The group of Christians I meet with (we dont do all the "official" memberships and such formalities) is quite diverse and accepting of people that are unique as long as they are following the teachings of Christ. We also don't believe in all the pomp and glitter or the heirarchy/clergy vs laity of most "denominations". A denomination is a division of something, less than the whole be definition. We are wholly Christian, no less and no more and differing views are allowed.So you see how my choice in friends are influenced by by faith. My only very close friend that is not a fellow Christian is KOOK (ryan), who is my blog partner, and even he believes America should keep it's Christian foundation.

  3. >Andrew33, am I missing something, or do you see how Jesus kept his distance (emotionally) from non-believers and so model your behavior after His good example? ;-)Anyway, I am fortunate enough to have two male friends with a rock-solid foundation; one from high school and one from early in my working career. We are like brothers, and they have been accepted into the rest of my family as such.Even with our longstanding and steadfast relationships, it was only relatively recent where we actually verbalized our loves for one another, and then it was a little awkward because that's just not what men do normally. You just don't find guys like David and Jonathan in 1 Samuel 18, exchanging clothing as a sign of love, at least not of hetero inclination.And while I don't feel I need more such close friends, I wonder at the fact it seems so difficult to begin down the path of such a bond with any new acquaintance. As I look back at how these two friendships were forged, I can recognize that there was a certain degree of openness between us from the very start, but how to foster that kind of genuineness still remains a mystery. It seems like it is either there or it isn't.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s