My daughter sent me a text, “Mom, I need to find a ‘Suzy‘.” She went on to ask about my friendship with my dear friend. How has it lasted for so many years? Did we ever get mad at each other? How did we fix our issues?
My daughter is struggling with friendship, as so many of us do from time to time. Some relationships can wear us down, but there are those jewels that shine above all the others. It’s precious my adult children notice the lasting friendship I share, and I marvel at the miracle of it.
The deepest fibers of our being yearns for relationship. Even when we want to throw in the towel, there’s this innate hunger for friendship. Despite these days of social media and all kinds of technological devices that compete with real life face-to-face contact, evidence is everywhere – we are more suited for the up close and personal types of relationship.
Truly, we do not like to be alone. Every year, especially during the holiday season, depression and loneliness hit all corners of society. Our antenna’s are heightened because we don’t want to see people lonely. Yet, it’s still there. Whether rich or poor, introvert or extrovert, in a large family, or no family at all – loneliness stems from isolation, abandonment, and other forces evident in our society. There is an expectation during the holidays, birthdays and special events…a hunger for companionship….we are made for relationship.
We feed off social media and depend on our cell phones for our connections. Each day, and often several times a day, social media is our “go to” place…we scroll through posts and texts…looking for…what? A mention or hello from a “friend.” We post a thought-for-the-day…and wait…and wait….for the ‘like’ button to add up…most of the time disappointed. How many of us have experienced harsh misunderstandings through these non-verbal, impersonal forms of communication? To be heard and appreciated is at the core. Searching for some kind of connection…meaningful relationship.
Recently, my husband and I enjoyed a rare trip to Disneyland to join in the celebration of the 60th anniversary of this famed theme park. While moving slowly through the switch-back Star Wars line, I could see in the darkened room – glowing cell phones in just about every person’s hand – each head bowed over their device. I gave a chuckle at the sight. A young man behind me caught my reaction and made the friendly comment, “It’s our generation.”
This led to a delightful conversation for the rest of our 20-30 minute wait.
Texting and email serves as quick tools to get a message out, but real communication comes from hearing the heart behind the voice. Nothing can replace the value and warmth of personal connection.
Coffee shops, pubs and sports events energize us. There’s a buzz going on at these locations – and not just caffeine. Surrounded by others gives us community, a place to hang out and belong. In my town there are several coffee shops and pubs packed with bodies. Available seating can be quite a challenge to find. But, on occasion a spot will open up – it might be just a single chair at a small round table. There’s an unspoken open invitation to join a table whether you know who’s occupying that spot or not. Often the space is cheerfully allowed.
Even though crowded rooms are an especially fearful place for me, I’m willing to strike up some kind of conversation with just one person. It’s remarkable how one can be in the midst of moving bodies, and still feel alone. Loneliness stems from a desire for connection.
Participating in compassionate causes reveal another desire to connect by just giving of ourselves – to impact someone else’s life. Caring about the hurting and suffering in our midst or across cultural borders makes us feel good….about ourselves and about the other person. We know, because we carry our own burdens and know what it feels like to hurt and be alone. It’s a feel-good and satisfying experience when we connect with someone outside our normal circles. In addition, when working together with others for the same cause, a bond grows….building relationship.
For a season of nearly 15 years, I enjoyed working and volunteering side-by-side with others who cared for young women finding themselves in unexpected life changing situations. Sharing compassion and having an impact proved to be rewarding in itself. But, it was also the women I worked with that deepened relationships to last a life time. These were some of the best years spent in my life time.
And then there’s marriage. What is it about a life-time commitment? Why do we get all giddy about spending the rest of our lives with another person? The very idea to love and cherish until death parts us is the ultimate type of relationship. It’s giving oneself to another, self-sacrificing, through thick-and-thin, for life. It’s also receiving and accepting another into our lives, warts and all. The marriage vows hold the secret of what commitment truly means. Giving up one’s very life for another is the greatest example of relationship we have.
I am humbled as I think about my marriage now entering its 40th year. A friendship lasting this long, while living under the same roof, raising kids together, and experiencing financial, personal and health ups and downs, doesn’t remain intact by accident.
Relationships are a gift. And, relationships are costly. Some may only last a season, few others last a life time. And, with each and every one, the rewards are priceless.
Do you have a friend who has been with you through thick and thin? What has relationship cost you?