You’ve heard almost all of ’em as I have.
WALK AWHILE IN MY SANDALS BEFORE YOU CRITICIZE OR JUDGE ME.
There are a couple hundred variations on that theme. Its basic truth remains: “You aren’t walking my path nor traveling on my journey. Minding your own business is a full-time job. Stay employed.”
As I awakened this morning to the delightful strictures of a MAJOR-LEAGUE CRAMP in my left calf, I realized something profound. It dawned on me how absolutely daffy I’d look to my close friends, dancing around in abject misery while wincing and stretching that offending muscle-tendon tag-team back to its original specs.
You make it sound like you have a whole team of close friends.
No. Only a few. Less than one hand. They’re men and/or women who’ve proven their love, friendship and devotion to me. I know they’d give whatever was in their power were I in need. They know I’d do the same in return.
Proverbs 17:17 reads, “A friend loves at all times; and a brother (or sister) is born for adversity.” 27:9-10 reads, “Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight, a sweet friendship refreshes the soul. Don’t leave your friends or your parents’ friends. . .”
Remember Ruth? “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.”
Elijah and Elisha: “Stay here; The Lord has sent me to Bethel.” “Not on your life! I’m not letting you out of my sight!” [2 Kings 2:2ff]
Paul: I still had no peace of mind because I did not find my brother Titus here.” [2 Corinthians 2:13]
Facebook has seriously distorted what is real friendship. ‘Friending’ somebody at the click of a button is meaningless in and of itself. Many a FB ‘friend’ couldn’t pick one another out of a crowded Orange Julius franchise at the mall.
Friendship is God’s way of loving you through somebody else. You’re no easier to love than am I. You’re dinged, scratched, dented, cracked. You’ve been broken and healed and have the scar tissue on body, mind and soul to prove it.
Real, enduring friends know that because they’re the same. They see through all your insecurities, foibles and uneven surfaces and love you all the more for them. Why? WHY? Because you offer that same solace, that same safe harbor to them, sitting beside them and quietly listening to their hearts.
Karl Menninger once said, “Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” He’s right. Spot on. The sticky wicket? Empathic, nonjudgmental listening takes time. Want to know how to ID your real friends? Pick out the few who take – make – time to listen to you.
“Time waits for no one. Treasure every moment you have. You will treasure it even more when you can share it with someone special. To realize the value of a friend… lose one.” A tested friend I’ve never seen wrote that. I’m not including his name because you wouldn’t know him.
Friends bring out the best in us that other people don’t look hard enough to find. Good, trusted, old friends stick around in the tough times, during the white-rapid, white-knuckle times of life. They’re there when you feel so alone–like the scared little boy’s trembling voice to his dad. . .
“Son, you’re safe. Go on to sleep. God’s right there with you.”
“I sure wish God had skin on ‘im.”
I’ve felt that way. I recently read that loneliness is the poverty of self while solitude is the richness of self. That’s nice. But alone is still alone. That favorite chair is somebody else’s now. The spot across the table is still empty. That sort of hollow place on the other side of your mattress? It’s slowly disappearing.
There’s an even more desperate loneliness. It’s when those places are still technically occupied but you’re just as lonely as if they weren’t.
There is no way of writing well and also of writing easily. . .
Somebody close to you is quietly, desperately dealing with being incredibly alone. Often it includes them being taken for granted, the things they are and customarily do being absorbed and expected. One of them wrote of “. . .my internal battle against the defying frustration of rejection and no attention.” Another: “If you want me in your life, put me there. I shouldn’t be constantly wondering where I fit or fighting for a spot.” Got the stomach for one more? “It’s tough when someone special starts to ignore and reject you, but it’s even tougher to pretend that you don’t mind.”
You might be able to see it, but the chances are you don’t. And they may see that you won’t. You can only keep pushing someone away for so long until they realize they’re better off without you. You’re caught up in the legitimate ‘stuff’ of your own life. You care. No, you do. Because they don’t reach out, you’re too busy to see, “I’m so lonesome” lurking just behind their outwardly-friendly gaze.
Because their interests don’t directly connect with yours, you kind of drift away from them. It’s unintentional. It’s also inevitable. Suddenly it comes to you: it’s been months since I heard from _______.
No. You can’t wear their shoes any more than they can wear yours. You can work to understand them a little more, however–and they you as well.
“Dan, that takes time I don’t always have.”
With respect, God gives us each 24 hours each day. You and I choose how we invest those disappearing minutes and hours. It’s not a matter of having time. Time is never really yours; it’s lent you for a few years while here.
Yes, it’s possible that so much time has passed your friendship has been irreparably damaged. Accept it, but learn from it. Otherwise, you’ll be relearning that same lesson down the road a ways.
Me, too, little fella. I’ve caught myself wishing God had skin on ‘im, too.
Since He doesn’t, then I need to rely on my close friends to fill in for Him. More to the point, I need to remember to stand in that same gap for my close friends.
“Time waits for no one. Treasure every moment you have. You will treasure it even more when you can share it with someone special. To realize the value of a friend… lose one.”
Thank you, friend from up North. There’s more than one way to lose a valued friend. Thanks for the reminder of just how precious is a close friend.
© D. Dean Boone, June 2014