Friend. It’s the weekly photo challenge theme.
And the timing of the challenge is perfect because I recently received a surprise long-distance phone call from a friend wishing me a Happy Birthday.
My friend lives all the way across the country from me. My friend is someone I spent a lot of time with over 20 years ago. She is someone who I haven’t seen in person for about 15 years.
Time and distance separate us, but yet when I have the chance to talk with my friend, it’s like time and distance disappear. We pick right up where we last left off and away we go. There’s never a lull in conversation. Never an awkward moment. Never enough time to talk as much as we want it seems.
“A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him I can think aloud.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Friend. How many people can I attribute that title to?
Friend. If I look on my blog stats, I have 1000 friends because so far, that’s how many people follow my blog. But a huge majority of those people are folks I’ve never met or shared any kind of conversation with online or in person.
So, even though I appreciate each and every one of those who follow my blog regularly, I can’t really call those readers my friends. What you know of me is only what I write publicly and very few of you even know my name. And what I know of you is probably much less.
When it comes to Twitter, it’s the same story. Many followers, but only a couple that I actually know. So friends? I don’t think so. Not so long ago, I deactivated my account because Twitter just seemed so senseless to me. (I know what people believe about having writer’s platforms, etc., etc., but it’s just not for me.)
Turning the social media page to Facebook, at last count, over 100 people like this blog’s fan page. Some of those are personal friends, some are not. Some are complete strangers to me.
On my personal Facebook page, I have only 245 friends – small potatoes compared to those who have thousands of “friends.” But I purposely keep my personal Facebook page limited to people I actually know, those who have personal connections with me, and folks from the past with whom I’ve continued to maintain a friendship.
So if I call you friend, who are you?
Friend. Childhood friends come and go, but three of my childhood and teen years friends have always been there for me, sharing happiness and sorrow, disappointments and accomplishments. True steadfast friendships that have endured to this day. Lifelong friends.
Friend. College friends seem like your best friends during those years because you share living spaces, new experiences, heartaches, and fun times with them. But only a couple of those friendships have stood the test of time.
Friend. During my season as a young married military wife, friends who shared the same hardships and the ups and downs of standing alongside husbands who served their country became lifelines. Some of those friendships have prevailed over the years, others have not.
Friend. In my career years, gals I worked with were my supportive and understanding friends. Ones with whom I could share frustrations with over lunch or on break or during a shopping trip. But many of those friendships have faded over time.
Friend. Then came a season of stay-at-home motherhood and I found myself in a new circle of friends. Moms like me with families and a home as our priority. These friends provided a listening ear, a helping hand, and much support since we lived so far away from family. Several of those friendships remain intact even though we are separated by distance, we connect on Facebook.
Friend. And then there were my friends of faith, particularly when my family lived in the Pacific Northwest. How precious they were to me as they helped me cultivate contentment in my circumstances, or how to be thankful in all things, or how to pray consistently and effectively for my children. Those friendships always remain special to me.
Friend. As my season of life changed yet again with a move back to our native state, friends helped sustain me through the illness of my mother, both my mother and mother-in-law’s deaths, and getting acclimated to living in a rural setting once more after so many years in suburbia.
Friend. While working for a non-profit ministry, I gained another new set of friends. Mature and spiritual friends with whom I regularly prayed. Friends who anointed and laid hands on me for healing when I faced my own cancer diagnosis. And to quote a Michael W. Smith song, “Friends are friends forever when the Lord’s the Lord of them.”
Friend. The empty nest, when the last of my three children graduated from college and moved away, literally knocked me for a loop following the death of my father. I felt adrift in a turbulent sea without a rudder to steer by.
I struggled with the concept of friendship during that time because those relationships I had with my children’s parents changed dramatically. My heart ached for like-minded friends who were willing to be soul-sharing kind of friends, not just acquaintances.
That’s when I turned to blogging to pour out words which seemed trapped in my head, heart, and soul. And that’s when the Lord orchestrated another crossing of paths in the pursuit of friendship.
Friend. I never would have thought that I would find good friends online. People whom I’ve never met in person, yet are so dear to me for their encouraging words, thoughtful emails, and in one case, even handwritten letters, texts, and phone calls. Only a handful, yet you know who you are.
Friend. Being friends requires a lot of giving of oneself. Friends require understanding. Friends must travel a two-way street. Friends need one another. Friends are good sounding boards, cheerleaders, and sympathetic listening ears.
Much about this life is uncertain, but one thing is clear. If I call you friend, you truly are just that.
“To know someone here or there with whom you can feel there is understanding in spite of distances or thoughts expressed – that can make life a garden.”~ Goethe