A few weeks back (while travelling) I was able to reconnect with a dear friend of mine from college. It had been 15 years since we got together, but it was nice to reconnect. I always find it intriguing that as the years soar past us, so much can change in each of us. Sometimes, it can just be that either you or they are more mature in other areas, or less wise in others. Or, maybe you actually have more in common now, then when you did back then.
I have mourned the loss of some friends whom have simply "Moved On" when they were done milking out of me what they could. You know the type. They are needy and selfish and are only looking for fulfillment for themselves at that stage of life. I have had to evaluate my own life to see if I have been that type of friend at times. There has been many a situation that through Men's Ministry, I have developed a friendship with another person, only for them to turn their back on me when they were over the crisis. This being because they were shallow, and I reminded them of the crisis that they just came through.
All of us know the type of friend that we run into in the aisles of the supermarket, the stop at the bank, sporting events, and even in Sunday school class at church. We are cordial and comfortable with them, but when the chips are down, are they there for us, and we for them, or are they merely just acquaintances?
My wife says that I use the term "Best Friend" too loosely. Maybe she is right. I would have to really drill down on what that definition of "Best" means to me. Maybe it is in the eye of the beholder, and varies differently for each of us. I know that I have a lot of friends, as I would like to think that I am a nice guy and extraverted enough to care. However, how many of my friends would I stick with through thick and thin, and vice versa them with me?
Now that I have laid out the different forms of friends as I see them, let me tell you about my day. My Best Friend Nelson, from High School and College years, came in town this week to visit his parents. Since leaving college over 18 years ago, we have only gotten together a handful of times through the years, and never for any extended period of time. We got together for coffee this morning, and I introduced him to another friend of mine as my "Childhood Best Friend." He jokingly said, "Oh, I guess I am not your Best Friend now, but only during childhood?" He got me thinking about my wife saying I throw out the "Best Friend' clause to easily. The truth is that Nelson is the only one that has bothered to continue correspondence through the years. We talk periodically every few months, and keep each other apprised of our families, careers, and overall lives. Even though there are many aspects to each of our lives that are totally foreign to us, we attempt to maintain our friendship from afar while living on different sides of the country. This morning we didn't talk about past memorable periods in high school and college, but rather about life currently happening around us. Our friendship can't just be based off of the past, but off of the present.
Upon leaving Nelson after coffee, I had to swing by the bank to cash a check. While there, I noticed that a dear friend of mine and former colleague, had tears in her eyes. I knew that her husband was recently diagnosed with cancer, so I assumed it wasn't allergies, but rather sorrow. Having a wife that has overcome the grips of cancer, I could empathize with the turmoil that this lady is attempting to overcome. After catching up with some past friends at the bank, I was heading out to my car. I noticed that my friend had quietly slipped out of the bank, and was sitting in her car crying. I went over and asked her if I could pray with her. I would like to tell you that I had some divinley inspired prayer that came down from heaven and coursed through me, or even that I said the right words that she needed to hear at that time. The truth is, I don't know what I prayed or said, and that really doesn't matter. What matters, is that I saw a friend in need, and I was there to let her know that I know what she is going through, and offered a strong arm or support in that time of need.
I am not touting myself up there as being a "Best" or even "Good" friend to others. I know that I am selfish and have fallen short in this area. However, I have been challenged lately to try to reach out and restore some of those friendships from the past which might have been damaged by something said, or inaction of working on the relationship. I would like to challenge my readers as to what type of friend they are, and to reach out to those whom they have lost contact with.