…and you need a helping hand,
And nothin’, nothin’ is goin’ right…
Just close your eyes, and think of me,
And soon I will be there.
To brighten up, even your darkest night.
You just call, out my name,
And you know, wherever I am…
I’ll come runnin’
To see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall,
All ya have to do is call –
And I’ll be there – yes I will…
You’ve got a friend.
There’s an old classic from James Taylor for you.- Sang it with a dear friend of mine at a concert when I was in high school. Good times…
As that song started randomly circulating through my head last week, I noticed a theme that had never stood out to me before…did you catch it? Go ahead, you can back up and read it again, I’ll wait… (elevator music playing)
The theme is this: the troubled one must be the initiator when it comes to finding support and comfort from their friends. *Of course this is not always the case…there are certainly times when pain and need are obvious…but today I’m primarily referring to when the battle is an internal one* This then begs two questions:
Do you reach out for help when you need some “love and care”?
Are you the type of friend that people feel comfortable coming to when they are in need?
I just don’t see (both in my life, and in society at large) the answers to either of those questions being “yes” very often nowadays.
I make that statement partially based on conversations I have with my friends on a fairly regular basis. The conversations will start by my asking how they’ve been, and I often get the response, “Oh, I’ve been hanging in there…this has been a really rough week. I’ve been so depressed… (or substitute in what you will: “lonely”, “insecure”, “worried”, “struggling”, etc.)”. –
But wait a minute, why haven’t I, as their friend, heard anything about their struggle before now? Why has this dear soul been suffering in silence and solitude for a whole week? -Why is it so hard for us to be honest and open, and to reach out a trembling hand to silently ask our friends for help, comfort, and encouragement?
Is it because, on every front, we are told that we as women must be strong? Do we shrink from the thought of being a dependent creature? Perhaps we actually pride ourselves on our independence?
Or maybe you’re not afflicted with an overly independent spirit, but you just can’t seem to bring yourself to consciously add more rain clouds to the already storm-filled life of a friend.-
Hear this, beloved one: we need each other. Period. Through the sunshine-y days and through the storms. You are never so strong as to be fully immune to this universal need…the need for a friend.
So today, I’d just like to discuss for a moment or two, those stormy kinds of days. Why we as friends can seem so very unapproachable sometimes…and what we can possibly do [if we desire] to change that perception.~
In my personal experience, one of the biggest things that makes me NOT want to seek out a friend in time of need, is the excessive busyness that has descended upon the globe. When all people talk about around me is how busy they are, I deduce that they couldn’t possibly spare a few unscheduled moments for our friendship. – So perhaps keeping our busyness from dominating our conversations, could help us seem more approachable to our friends.
Another thing that makes me hesitant to approach a friend with my troubles, is never having really received “permission” to do so. I know that probably sounds funny, but just a few days ago, I needed to get something out of my head in order to keep it from eating away at my insides any further. But as I was mentally going down the list of people I would consider close friends, I only knew of one who (very lately) offered that if I ever needed to vent to her, I could. She may regret that offer now 😉 but that day, I was surely grateful for it. I didn’t even hesitate sending that e-mail, because she had already assured me, that my venting wouldn’t be an intrusion on her life. There was no room left for me to second-guess, and that’s what gave me the confidence to go to her. So, why not give your friends permission to come to you whenever they are hurting, or battling, or scared? They will be far less apt to talk themselves out of it, knowing that you value them and want to be a part of their lives…for better or for worse.~
What about people who always try to “fix” you? Often men are known for this, but we as women can be guilty of it too. When someone comes to you for support, they often just need an ear, a shoulder, and a hug. They’re not looking for earth-shattering wisdom…just understanding love.
I also think that having boundaries in place around every area of our lives, including friendship, can be very healthy. For me, there are only a very few things higher on my list of priorities right now. But friendship may be a bit further down on your list, and that’s perfectly fine! The key is setting your priorities in place, and then sticking to them. –
How this plays out: a friend calls my cell phone in the middle of a date night (my sweet husband is one of those things that is higher on my priority list than my friends) and so it’s a non-negotiable — I have set my boundaries, and I let the phone ring. But it doesn’t mean I don’t care. On the contrary – it means that I care enough to want to be able to give you my undivided attention when we talk. And rest assured, that will happen as soon as my date is over!
As an aside: I think we can allow people and circumstances to become unnecessarily burdensome when we let them overstep our priority boundaries. – So let your friends know that they are definitely one of the priorities in your life, but that you work hard at keeping your priorities within their proper bounds.
What about long-distance friendships? I have dear friends who live far, far away.- But, although I can’t be there with them in person, I still absolutely want to know what’s going on in their lives – the good and the bad. You can still show plenty of care and concern for your far-away friends through a phone call or chat, by letting them know you keep them in your thoughts and prayers, sending cards or little “thinking of you” gifts, and when they take the time to share their hearts with you – care enough to follow up with them days, or even weeks, later to see how they’re doing.
One of my goals in making deep relationships a priority in my life, is that I want to begin to financially position myself to actually be able to BE there for my far-away friends when they need it – even if it means jumping on a jet plane with short notice. I want them to know, in no uncertain terms, that I care – that I am committed to them, and to our friendship. – So to my long-distance girls: I’m here for you…always! And hey, want to commit to making a face-to-face meeting happen a few times a year? I would love that. You’re so worth it.
Sometimes, I think we can get so distracted that we don’t even realize the lack of true heart-sisters in our lives. That is, until hard times hit and we find ourselves alone. We must nurture and grow these relationships into existence when times are good so that we have someone to walk beside us when our path travels through the valley. Friendships must be intentional. They won’t just happen. And left to themselves, they will die.
Lastly, I feel as if we must continually be proving ourselves worthy of someones trust (during the sunshine-y times) through our day to day actions…I’m sure you have people in your life, as I do, that when you’re talking to them – they always seem half there, and half distracted by whatever else is going on around you. Or people that, when you call them, regularly won’t return your call for days. Maybe they’ve never once asked “How are you?” without you asking it first. Or they are too busy being a “friend to all” but are only succeeding at being a “friend to none”. – Those kinds of people are not your true friends my dears – however much you may want them to be. Invest your heart, and your time, elsewhere.
So in summary:
In addition to being the type of friend that people feel they can come to, we must also be willing to give our friends the chance to love us back. We can’t successfully “go it alone” for long.
But they can’t read our minds, we must be willing to tell them when our hearts are heavy! Reach out. Ask for help. You just might be pleasantly surprised at those who will reach back. – Those are the true treasures in your life. Cherish them with all you are!
How are you working on being an approachable, trustworthy friend? Do you have those kinds of friends in your life? Do you seek the help and understanding of a friend when you need it? Why or why not? Let’s discuss in the comments below…
For more in the friendship series:
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