A huge problem in our society is loneliness. I hear all the time people who feel they have no friends, who sit at home lonely wishing they were out socialising, people who struggle on believing no one cares or just that they don’t even consider that there is a community to be had on their doorstep.
Last year, Callie (someone online I’m only really beginning to get to know!) had this fantastic blog link-up series on Friendship. It was interesting to read other people’s posts on the subject of friendship – both starting and maintaining them.
I think friendship is powerful. I guess I grew up in the era of shows like Friends and Dawson’s Creek which showed these unbelievably strong community friendships that were family. I mean Ross’s friends stayed in that waiting room all night while his ex wife gave birth to his first son. There was no way any of them would be left homeless on the street if one of them lost their jobs. When Dawson’s Dad died, all his friends were at his father’s funeral – even Pacey despite the fact they hadn’t really spoken since their fallout. When Jack finally came out as gay, his friends all had his back against bullying teachers and people who wanted to discriminate against him because of his sexual orientation. Even the super conservative bible bashing Grams who quickly put the gossipy homophobic Ty in his place.
I don’t know about others of my generation, but I wanted those kind of family-bond friendships like I saw on TV.
When I became a Christian, I realised those kind of friendships were biblical. Jesus and his crew spend a lot of time in the homes of their friends, eating together, rejoicing together, in fear together, praying together, mourning together. I quickly realised though that due to media and culture of our western society – where we judge each other on what we do, what we wear, how we enjoy ourselves – that creating those friendships wouldn’t be easy. It would take hard work, and probably mockery!
It meant being a friend.
It meant opening your mind.
It meant not choosing your friends on their fashion choices.
It meant opening your home.
It meant opening up your diary.
It meant sharing your phone number.
It meant sharing your past, present and future.
It meant honesty.
It meant choosing not to automatically be offended before trying to understand.
I spent a long, long time being lonely and insecure that I had no friends. Until one day in 2005 when I got diagnosed with mumps. My face was swollen, I felt pretty awful, I was so hungry and I was frustrated at being quarantined during such an important time of my university education. And I realised that despite all this I was content. Why? I had an amazing group of friends that were my family. Every day my friends text or visited it (they had, unlike me, been vaccinated against mumps). They lent me hand blenders and brought me fresh fruit and veg. They rejoiced with me on the day I was ‘un-quarantined’ – we cheered as I crossed the threshold of my flat to the outside world after 10 days! I realised in that week that life could suck as much as it wanted but there was nothing life could throw at me where I wouldn’t have a supportive bunch of people encouraging me through it.
One key thing though – I was a friend to them, and they were a friend to me.
Some people will not be your friend, so don’t waste too much time trying to be friends with the ‘cool’ people. And if someone is being your friend, why not return that and be a friend to them?
What does it mean to you to be a friend?