For the purpose of this posting, I define “Friend” as a person outside the circle of family. I do this knowing that some of my closest human confidants, the people who really get me, are family members. Chief among this group is my husband of more than 50 years, Terry. I am also aware that I have a relatively small circle of close friends, a wider group of friends I am getting to know and coming to love, and an even bigger group of folks I enjoy being around, who share similar interests, and who may one day be closer. Facebook, residency, faith, and activities are great starting points for friendship, BUT I might not run to Facebook to open my heart, soul, the scars, let alone the still bleeding wounds of life. As a reserved person I tend to hold back pieces of myself until I feel ‘safe’.
I worked with an individual many years ago who upon hearing someone’s name, especially someone of prominence in the community, proclaimed, “He’a a really good friend of mine.” It took me quite a while to realize that his having met someone casually, attended church with someone, or exchanged pleasantries in the grocery line at Krogers established ‘Good Friend’ status in his mind’s eye. In his defense he was a very friendly welcoming person projecting those qualities on others he met without any qualms.
Finding common ground with someone, being able to laugh with someone, and simply having personalities that compliment are among my first steps to lasting friendships. I love getting to know new people, not huge groups, but small ones hearing other people’s stories, finding points of connection. I am thankful for the process that leads to friendships that last.
Realizing that sometimes I am drawn to people who are not so much like me expands my world beyond the narrow space folks who are just like me socially, politically, and religiously inhabit. In fact some of these people have been my best friends over my lifetime.
However, in the process of making friends I have found work, school, church, organizations, and neighborhoods have proven to be the most fertile ground for friendship. Some of the people I treasure come from these places, but some of them, for example from highschool, I have learned to love better because of recent interactions on Facebook and personally.
My friends are better friends to me than I am to them, but because of their acts of friendship, I have learned to be a better friend. A true friend brings out the best and overlooks oodles of shortcomings. Friends laugh with you and cry with you. Friends only let you wallow in “POOR ME” so long before they bring out a 2X4 and whack you up the side of the head [metaphorically speaking or not].
Friends drive two hours from their home to drive your husband from Hope Lodge in Nashville to Vanderbilt Cancer Center for treatment so you can drive to Louisville, KY to work…because you are trying to keep your job in the midst of it all. Friends show up, step up, and stand up for you. Friends at work during the same scenario, allow you to work when you can and pick up part of your load. Friends open their home and their hearts to you. Friends encourage, send cards, write nice things on Facebook.
FRIENDS make ME want to be a BETTER FRIEND and to keep on going through the process of making new friends, because I have had to say ‘good-by’ to a few. Friends are not bound by blood, marriage, or obligation. Friends are bound by Love.
For the honor of being a friend to some and for the privilege of having wonderful friends, I am grateful, Oh, Lord!