I have friends. Some are friends of my father and family. Some are my personal friends. Not everyone has friends. It’s kinda like money, easy to make money when you have money. Easier to make friends when you have friends.
Years ago I wanted to make some friends of my own, not just share my Dad’s friends. So I ended up going to a Bible study that was at a coffee house. It was a weekly thing that was mostly made of a nice family. Periodically guests would come, but it was mostly the family and me for nearly a year. I was able to become friendly and have tea with one of the daughters.
Then one day a red-haired gal came. She ended up inviting me to another bible study group. That’s where I met one of my future best friends. But she had to leave early that night due to a co-worker passing away.
My future best friend ended up calling me to invite me to different things. I told her the truth, that I really appreciated her staying in touch with me even when I couldn’t do most of the activities due to our family’s hectic work schedule. And to please keep calling me. She kindly kept reaching out to me no matter how many “no’s” I had to give her. I slowly got to know her and love her bubbly personality. That led me to hanging out a few times with the self-named Geeks. A group of former roommates and co-workers who got together weekly to watch “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. I like the show, but I wasn’t a big fan of it like they were. I met some of them at a miniature golf outing I was invited to. They were nice people. It would be a while before I was invited to a geek birthday party for my best friend’s sister. The group had morphed from watching the series to gathering for dinner, games and conversation. I was invited more often to join them. This was a very nice atmosphere for me since it was very much like the old studio days of fellowship I grew up in. The joking, bantering and friendship was very reminiscent to me. I entered their fellowship at the right time for me. It wasn’t always like that for them. It was gather, get your dinner and watch 5-6 episodes a night and little discussion.
A couple of years passed, then my father passed away. My close friends from the Geeks were there for me. I wasn’t alone. I had a network of people who knew and liked me the way I was. In quiet subtle ways they supported me and my family as we adjusted from a whirlwind life to settling down to just take care of my mother and ourselves.
During this time of a major 180 degree change in our lives and getting things set up, my best friend shared some very helpful information that transformed our lives and I’m eternally grateful to her for that.
I also felt that I needed to reach out to my Dad’s friends and be available for them. So I finally joined Facebook. That opened up many ways to connect with my Dad’s friends, both old and new. We sometimes see each other’s posts online and there was a lot of support. Many shared stories, fond memories or of how Dad had helped and encouraged them.
Over the years I haven’t really done much, since I’m not able to go down to Denver to have coffee with them. Facebook has its perks and downsides. I haven’t been as proactive in reaching out and just touching base with Dad’s friends. There’s a bible verse that says something to the effect of not neglecting your father’s friends. Some of them I see on Facebook and I’ll comment on their posts, but they don’t usually show up in my news feed.
I could do better.
It’s been ten years since Dad passed away. I’ve made some friends in different places as well during my journey. Some through essential oils, ironically. One in particular is another of my best friends. She’s a classy lady and we share a lot of common interests. I met her through a mutual friend.
I’m kind of an in-between person in a way, I have some conservative beliefs, yet many of my friends tend to be liberals or moderates. I have a few conservative friends, which is nice since I grew up in media production; that tended to be heavily liberal. In that media culture, my beliefs were marginalized, mocked and belittled. So I became very close-mouthed about my beliefs and not ashamed, but ostracized in a way. So I bottled it all up.
It;s nice that now my liberal friends know where I stand and still accept me as I am. I don’t shove my beliefs down anyone’s throat. But I’ve gotten better at voicing my opinions. Diplomatically of course, I am my father’s daughter. My father was well-known for his diplomacy.
Sometimes I feel like I don’t fit in with my liberal or conservative friends. I’ve got some opinions and beliefs that don’t fit with either crowd. I tend to see the perspective of both and I end up bringing up the other side’s point sometimes in conversations. I prefer respectful discussions to volatile arguments.
I do different things with different friends. Some are more sit and chat, some others like to do some kind of activity, most are a mix of the two.
I’m thankful for my family and friends. I’m very blessed. But, not everyone is. There’s a lot of lonely people in the world – some due to personality issues, some due to their work schedules, some due to various circumstances. I can’t solve their lack of friendship issues. I can only manage the relationships in my own life. And I’m doing better with some relationships than I am in others. Some friends and associates I’ve drifted away from because of time and distance. Others drifted away from me.
I have different groups of friends. The best friends, the inner circle, family friends, the outer circle and associates. Then there’s friends you’re friends with because they’re your friends’ friends. You know what I mean. You like them and all, but you’re not close to them like your inner circle. They are great to hang out with and/or play a game with or some other fun activity. I wonder how many of us have the friend’s friends in our lives. I think it’s good for us in a way. The building blocks of community. Like a church community is a mix of people from different walks of life. We need that variety of different perspectives beside our own or our tribe. It’s nice when I hang out with my conservative friends. It’s refreshing to be on the same page on most things. I can talk about certain topics with ease with them than my more liberal or moderate friends. But, the latter give me fresh new things to think and talk about. Plus they’re a lot of fun to banter with.
I wish I could get all my friends to think like me. But, that’s rather selfish. I’m sure they’ve thought it would be nice to get their one conservative or liberal friend or relative to think like them too. The desire to want others to think like we do is natural. I’m not sure what to do with it. Because we believe the truth and that our loved ones have fallen for a lie. We want to change them, save them from the lies of the other side. In the end God knows the truth. Unless you don’t believe in God. Than that’s another decisive point of opinions. How does the Church hold its diversity in the tension of its unity?
I learned the phrases, “Life is messy” and “People are messy” from one of my best friends. Having friends isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. Sometimes they say or do things that hurt you or offend you. Sometimes they betray you or try to coerce you to do something you shouldn’t do. Peer pressure isn’t always used for good purposes or bad. It’s a strong dynamic when you’re young, but depending on how you handle it – it can control your life later on.
Back in junior high, I had a friend tell me that if I didn’t eat a certain food (that was available during our lunch time) that she wouldn’t be my friend anymore. I was wearing braces at the time and knew I wasn’t allowed to eat whatever it was. I can’t remember what the food was, something sticky and nutty probably or some such. I told her no, told her I’m not allowed to eat that with the braces on and walked out of the lunchroom. Hours later she was hanging out with me as if nothing had happened. That moment struck in my memory as successfully standing up for myself. I made a lot of mistakes and said & did stupid things when I was younger. But, in that moment, I said and did the right thing. It wasn’t about the braces, it was about not being coerced into violating my conscience.
On the flip side, my friends have influenced me in many ways. I’m more outspoken than I used to be. I understand that conflict and argument can be constructive in gaining understanding and resolution if done in a truth-seeking way. I’m still me, but I’ve learned a lot over the last dozen years. About my friends, about myself and my family. I’m sitting here trying to think of how else my friends have influenced me. I’m not sure. Probably in a lot of small little ways. I’ve picked up little mannerisms and sayings and ways of doing things from them as well over the years.
I think this is done for now. I can’t think of anything to add. But, maybe you have some thoughts or memories you’d like to share with me? Are you a family friend who has some fun or interesting memory of Dad? Do you have a piece of wisdom on friendship and friends you can share with me?