(Friendship Part 2)
First posted Feb. '09
"Mama! Are we RICH?" My little Kimberly's big brown eyes widened as she watched me open the large bag of hand-me-downs from a friend.
Pointing to the second bag, she declared, "Cause we got TWO bags of hand-me-downs this time! And stickers!"
Laughing, I agreed, "Yes, Baby, we're rich. Rich in friends."
If you start indoctrinating them young enough, PKs tend to think used clothes are couture and left-overs are a basic food group.
If I knew how to make money by investing in the stock market, I'd tell you how. In a seminar. Then I'd make more money.
What I do know from experience is how to be rich in friends. Yet I also know what loneliness is. I think God let me experience that a few years ago for several reasons. So this and last week's blogs on friendship are just me, one beggar on the road of life, sharing bread with another.
About 12 years ago my pastor, Mike, asked me, "So, Kathy, now that you're settled in, how do you like it here in Florence?"
"Do you want a politically correct answer or the truth?"
"Dr. Mike, I've never been lonely in my life until coming here. I find the time at church allows for us to be friendly but not friends."
We talked about it and eventually launched a new ministry. Ministries are often born from our lives' hard places. I began a supperclub for the purpose of fellowship. We still meet monthly for a good meal in a home setting. It's open to any adult at church who cares to join.
Supperclub 4th of July
C.S. Lewis said, "Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My God, how you learn." Now I recognize loneliness better in others and I learned how to build new friendships. (They differ from the middle-of-the-night friends I shared with you last week.)
"I went outside to find a friend
And could not find one there.
I went outside to be a friend
And friends were everywhere."
* Initiate. Some people just wait on others to plan time together. I find when I pick up the phone with, "Hey! You want to go out for lunch Friday?" people are eager.
* Meet a need. When someone needs a meal, a card, a sympathetic ear, or a casserole, do it. Folks celebrating a baby's birth or hurting from a family death or illness have real needs. Meeting those needs may forge friendship. Foxhole friends can be enduring and endearing. When someone is down, reach out and lift!
"A friend is the first one in the door
when the rest of the world walks out."
* Give. Give more than you take. Be the first to give. Don't keep score. I try to do this in business as well. Unselfishness should be our hallmark in social or business circles. Friends can be found in both arenas.
* Listen. Listen more than you talk as you get to know someone. You learn when you listen. People appreciate a soft shoulder and good ear rather than someone unloading on them too early in the relationship. Bank some deposits before making withdrawals.
"Folks don't care how much you know,
until they know how much you care."
* Trust God. That sounds strange but as my faith in Him grows, I'm better able to trust others. Not a Pollyanna launch into befriending the world! But I find lonely people may have been hurt, betrayed or abandoned to the point that they dare not risk their heart again. As God fills that hole in their heart, heals the hurt with His grace, forgiveness and love, they can then give grace, forgiveness and love to others. A better vertical relationship with God builds good horizontal ones with people.
Someone recently said, "
* Don't require too much from a new friend. There are friends in life for a season or a reason. No one person can meet all your needs. The load breaks down any relationship, especially fragile, new ones. Let God do that work in you first, then your dependence on Him frees you up. The goal is not to be independent...that leads back to isolation and loneliness. But you can choose then to be interdependent. We were created for community. Lone Rangers are easily picked off!
Everybody needs a Tonto!
* Accept without demanding change. We all want acceptance, just as God gives to us. Yet sometimes even with our spouses, we don't accept them as they are but try to change them. That's His job! Learn to love variety in friends and flowers. Everyone's not like you and no two people on earth agree on everything. Those differences grow you, open you to new things and ideas. I'm sure glad my friends accept my weirdness.
* Be yourself. Be real, open and honest and the rapport grows naturally. Some folks try too hard to impress or cling to you. They'll be whatever they think you want. That clinginess smothers friendship. Until one is comfortable with herself, she'll find true friendships hard to build. All relationships need a foundation of honesty or they eventually crumble.
Dr. Seuss advises, "Be who you are because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." Smart man! Bet he had lots of friends!
So there you have my get-rich scheme. Invest in your friends and you'll be enriched for a lifetime!