“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
― A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
The acquiring of friends is one of the most magical if not miraculous experiences of my life.
About a year ago, I woke up with the weight of loneliness heavy on me. Surprisingly, I don’t feel lonely often. I wasn’t looking for sympathy. But on that day I was sad. I just wanted one person to hang out with. I wanted to be myself and not have to think hard before a word came out of my mouth.
I moved away from my hometown three years ago. What I’ve found, and it totally makes sense to me, is that the people I’ve met in Columbia already had their own lives, schedules, activities and friends before I came. They may theoretically need to eliminate something in their lives before I can fit in. In a similar way, when I return to Wilmington I see acquaintances and friends carrying on as if I never left. I promise I’m not clamoring for a pity party— I’m just being honest. These transitions are a natural part of life.
God created us to endure, enjoy and learn from change. Change is an important and inevitable part of life.
But that particular day, as I said, I felt lonely. So I did something about it. I texted my friend who I’ve mentored for a long time. You can read an earlier post about our friendship here: The Making of a Friend. I can’t really recall how long she’s been in my life. All I know is that when we first met she and her husband were newlyweds and now they have six children. So it’s been a while. LOL! We met while working at a church service project. I invited she and her hubby to our small home group. The rest is history. We’ve lived far apart most of the years we’ve been friends, since her husband is in the military. She’s much younger and I think of her as a daughter. I’ve virtually walked with her through some hard places, because life… We’ve been honest and vulnerable with each other and I knew I could be transparent with her. She called me. After I asked all the questions about how she was doing, it was my turn. “Okay I need to share some feelings with you. You don’t have to fix me; I just need to say this out loud.” It felt good just to hear myself say the words and to hear her listening. She went on to tell me about a difficult situation she and her husband had been navigating with a third party. Immediately the magic happened again. We entered into each others’ lives—we cared and responded to each other. It helped me to get my mind off of myself; pray again for her and also feel relieved of my sad feelings.
Right now, someone you haven’t met is out there wondering what it would be like to meet someone like you. – Unknown
What is more fulfilling and more gladdening than a true friend? They don’t just happen overnight. They require lots of time. At first you work on being comfortable with each other, then, if all goes well, you feel safe enough to share your stuff: what makes you happy, sad, what motivates you and all the deep things. In a friendship it’s important to listen a lot. I try to be conscious of giving my friends a chance to speak because I feel like I’m apt to talk too much! I often pray the prayer that always works:
Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, Oh Lord my Rock and my Redeemer.
Friendships take intention, initiation and pursuance.
I remember another friendship that I strongly pursued many years ago. I liked this person a lot and I made an intention to stay in touch with her, no matter how busy we both were. It felt one-sided for awhile and I wondered if she liked me and if she would have time or interest to be friends. I could cry now, twenty-seven years later, so incredibly thankful for the friend she is to me. I’ve learned so much from her. She’s the one now, more often than not, who pursues. When she calls, she will hardly give me time to ask about her life. She’s too busy wanting to hear all about mine. She’s also the friend who once told me I have spinach in my teeth and asked if I meant to wear two different earrings.
When I worked hard at being her friend, I never knew the treasure our relationship would be to me all these years later!
“We need old friends to help us grow old and new friends to help us stay young.”
– Letty Cottin Pogrebin