Spotting a True Friend

by Darrin Lythgoe

Like elephants in the refrigerator, true friends are easy to recognize. They’re the ones who build you up, never let you down, and stick with you through thick and thin. In fact, true friends make themselves known in lots of ways, many of which are listed here. Are you a true friend? Do you know who your true friends are? Remember, the best way to find a true friend is to be one yourself.

To find elephants in the refrigerator, look for those telltale signs—footprints in the butter.

A true friend—

  • Doesn’t gossip or talk behind the backs of others.

  • Knows when and how to say “Thank you.”

  • Tries to be on time.

  • Doesn’t covet a friend’s possessions.

  • Isn’t jealous of friendships between others.

  • Doesn’t hold a grudge or look for revenge.

  • Can be trusted.

  • Doesn’t let loyalty to one friend become license to hurt or be rude to others.

  • Will never ask someone to compromise his or her standards.

A true friend also—

  • Will stand up for you when times get tough.

  • Says something nice or nothing at all.

  • Won’t make friends guess what he or she is feeling when something goes wrong.

  • Is generous and doesn’t keep score.

  • Doesn’t irritate others by copying what they wear, what they do, or what they say. (Be your own unique personality and let people like you for who you are.)

  • Leads by example.

  • Doesn’t take offense over little things.

  • Is quick to help a friend in need, even if it means sacrificing his or her own time or interests. Remember the Golden Rule (Matt. 7:12) and the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25–37).

  • Returns borrowed items promptly and in good condition (see Mosiah 4:28).

  • Has the courage to admit the truth and confront challenges as they arise.

  • Respects the ideas and desires of others and doesn’t mind letting friends have their way at least half the time.

  • Never takes friends for granted.

  • Remembers special occasions, like birthdays.

  • Is slow to find fault and isn’t overly critical.

  • Tries to go the extra mile, even when it isn’t convenient.

Last but not least, a true friend—

  • Doesn’t judge others and doesn’t jump to conclusions without knowing the whole story.

  • Shows genuine sympathy when called for.

  • Respects others’ privacy.

  • Will never give up on a friend.

  • Shows real interest in friends and their interests.

  • Knows the meaning of sharing.

  • Is quick to forgive others.

  • Respects others’ beliefs.

  • Is a good listener and works at it often.

  • Tries not to let compliments go unspoken.

  • Accepts people as they are.

  • Emphasizes the good in others.

  • Is slow to anger (see Prov. 15:18).

  • Isn’t self-centered or conceited.

  • Has charity for all, friends and strangers alike (see Moro. 7 and 1 Cor. 13).

  • Is kind.

  • Doesn’t mind if you’re not popular.

  • Honors and obeys his or her parents and doesn’t let friendship become an excuse to do otherwise.

  • Is dependable.

  • Gives more thought to giving than to getting.

  • Takes responsibility for his or her actions.

  • Is sensitive to friends’ feelings.

  • Finds joy in the success of others.

  • Is willing to give a friend the benefit of the doubt.

Canadian Youth to the Rescue

“I knew if anyone could save us, it would be the Mormons!” says Janine Petryliak, an administrator at the Canadian Diabetes Association.

Just weeks before the CDA’s annual donations drive, its records were destroyed, which put the fund-raiser in danger of being canceled. Although she is not a member of the Church, Janine knew she could count on the Latter-day Saints for help. She wasn’t disappointed.

“It seemed like a project that would be enjoyable,” says Tauni Schmirler, a 17-year-old Laurel in the Okotoks (Alberta, Canada) Ward, who organized the project. “I could do it with my friends and get them involved, and it gave them all service opportunities.”

Youth in other wards surrounding Calgary were quick to help the association as well. They were out on the streets collecting money just days after they were called on to help in the communities of Airdrie, Strathmore, Olds, High River, Vulcan, Morrin, Hanna, and Drumheller. Donning coats, mittens, hats, and scarves, they hit the streets in the early winter’s below-zero temperatures.

The winter cold, it seems, turned out to be an advantage.

“The colder it was, the nicer the people were,” says Shawn Matthews of Okotoks.

Testimony Builder

“Not long ago, my dad was caught in the beaters of a forage harvester bin. I know that Heavenly Father gave him the strength to break the drive chain to prevent further damage. As it was, his skull was broken in ten places and his neck was cut open to the windpipe. He said prayers and was given a blessing before he was raced from Kingaroy, where the accident happened, to Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland.

“From this I learned that someone could be lost at any time, so we should all endeavor to lead a worthy and clean life. This has brought me closer to my dad and taught me that if we have faith, the Lord will look after us. I love my mom and dad, and I know the Church is true and that Jesus lives.”

John Taylor, 14
Kingaroy, Queensland, Australia

The Right Priorities

Seminary, rugby, and collecting old coins. Those are some of 15-year-old Joshua Kimberling’s favorite things, and in that order.

Joshua lives in York, England, where he’s not afraid to talk about the gospel. “I can answer my friends’ questions about the Church a lot easier now that we’ve studied Church history in seminary,” he says.

He also took some maps of Church history sites in England to school to show his geography teacher, who then photocopied them to show to other classes.

Joshua has just begun his Bronze Duke of Edinburgh course and especially enjoys the first aid, which he hopes he never has to use.

Small-Town Pride


The word usually conjures up images of sewing, cooking, and home beautification techniques. But three future homemakers in the small town of Orderville, Utah, are using their homemaking and art skills in a rather unusual way.

Aurelia, Ellen, and Deborah Johnson, three sisters who are also members of their local chapter of Future Homemakers of America, painted over a graffiti-covered wall with a mural carrying the slogan: “PRIDE: A drug-free alternative.”

With the help of several classmates and friends, and the luck of two sunshine-filled weeks in the middle of winter, the sisters were able to send their message of hope.

Give Him a Break

Meeting the missionaries while breaking into a car might seem a little odd, but that’s exactly what happened to John Clout of the Enoggerra Ward, Brisbane Australia Stake. Actually, he was doing the missionaries a favor—they had locked their keys in the car—and to express their gratitude, they offered to share their message about Jesus Christ with him. After obtaining his parents’ permission, John, along with his sister Aimee, took the discussions.

“It was the night of the third discussion—the restoration of the gospel—that my mother became interested in what the missionaries had to say,” recalls John.

John, Aimee, and his mother were all baptized on Easter Sunday in 1989. John’s dad joined the Church four years later. John is now preparing to go on a mission, so that he might bring the gospel message to others, as two missionaries did to him.

“I have grown considerably since joining the Church,” says John. “The principles and teachings have taught me good standards and morals that have helped me in my youth and for my future.”

Time Out for Testimonies

A testimony takes a lot of different things to help it grow—things like prayer, scripture study, and church attendance. Another vital ingredient is time out to think about the things you really believe. The Rochester First Ward, Rochester New York Stake Young Women had a special Sunday outing to the Sacred Grove.

The grove, which is not far from their homes, was a good place to reflect on their feelings about Joseph Smith. All the girls said it was a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon, reverently thinking about their feelings toward the gospel.

“We went and spent time together, just thinking about Joseph Smith and sharing our testimonies,” says Laurel Sarah McKeever.

At the grove, the girls read about the Prophet’s first vision. Then they spent time in the grove and on the Joseph Smith farm, quietly contemplating what had taken place there.

“It’s a good feeling to think that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ were there,” says Mia Maid Kathy Domm. “It was really spiritual, and I think it also brought us closer together as young women.”

Small but Strong

The Young Women in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia, may be few in number (four to be exact), but they are strong in spirit. The girls recently spent a few days of summer vacation rappelling (called abseiling in Australia) together.

They have also learned to change tires, sew clothing, and cook holiday food together.

“The young women in our branch are very special. They practice and stand up for what they believe in,” says their teacher, Sister Kathryn Jensen.

Photography by Steve Bunderson

Aurelia; Ellen; Deborah