I remember writing a post a long time ago about friends and friendship, and I am reminded once again of how important true friendship is to me. I have just been out to coffee with a great friend of mine, and we talked a little about how, at times, there is almost an "audit" of friends in our lives.....
People change a great deal. I change. We are all constantly evolving. I am probably unrecognisable from the woman who started this blog. In fact, I am probably radically different from the woman who was writing here just a year ago. A month ago. Change is something some people fear, but it is part of the natural order of things, and if we don't change, we can wither and die. Or our relationships can. Friendships can. So I welcome the changes in my life and just pray that each one is a positive change and not a negative one.
But with the changes in my own life, come changes within my relationships with my friends too. In recent weeks I have seen how some friendships just don't go beneath the surface deep enough to withstand crises, and how some new friendships leap up automatically to prop up people when they are needed to do so. It is all dependant on the nature of our diverse characters, I think. Or maybe not. Maybe it is our culture, our upbringing, our education, our faith, our experiences, which have the most impact on our friendships. A reason, a season, or a lifetime is what I talked about before. Which ever way you look at it, friendship is an evolving force.
I have been particularly blessed to have the kind of friends around me who do not hesitate to step forward to fill the gaps. People who go with me to doctors' appointments, who fetch and carry me, who chide me, who laugh with me, and make me see the funny side of potential meltdown issues. People who bolster my spirits, take me out to coffee, understand when I am forgetful, when I am torn, when I am wallowing in quagmires of "stuff" they do not really understand, but see anyway. People who remember me, offer help without being asked, can be trusted to speak truthfully, and who see needs and address them in ways which can only be heaven sent. Whether I like it or not.
As a pig-headed, stubborn, independant woman who is not all that good at seeing reason at times, and who ploughs her way through her days with head down, intent on the goals, without thinking about consequences, it is good to know that there are those friends around who are not afraid to say "STOP" and make me slow down. A little. Who have my best interests at heart and who genuinely love me. Me. The pig-headed stubborn one.
And in return, I hope I am perceptive enough to know when they need me. When I can support them, when I can yell "STOP" if necessary, when I can stand in the gap for them.
Since I got home, I have been inundated with visits and calls from a group of really special friends. The ones who collected my mail and watered plants daily, and looked after my house. Those who took us to the airport and fetched us. Those who have decided to come and lay my patio. Those who have been away, and are checking in to see I am home and ok.
I matter to them, you see. I am a part of their lives. If someone matters to you, it means you take a special interest in them. People matter to me. I worry about them. I cheer them on too. So I get it. And can never take for granted the special blessings I have received with the group of people who encircle me with their love. Is encircle a word? Well, I just made it up, if not. It sounds exactly how I mean it to sound. Perfect.
When the Voortrekkers in South Africa headed north at the advent of the British centuries ago, they left on their wagons, and in the face of danger and attack, they formed a laager. A circle of wagons, and defended their position by "getting each other's backs". Covering each other. Much like the pioneers did in the States too, I imagine. The weakest and most vulnerable were in the centre, protected by those who were stronger.
And that is what being surrounded by people who care feels like. Which ever way I look, as I spin round in a circle, there is someone covering my back. I know this. And I can trust it.
Oh, how my soul weeps for those who do not have this kind of back-up. For those who thought they did, and when the time came to stand, found out that they were alone. It weeps too for the ones who place more importance on ephemeral things, and miss the point about the value of true friendship. The dawning realisation that what was thought to be a bankable friendship was one of worthless ashes is a hard thing for anyone to bear.
And so we come to the "audit" part. How to continue friendships which have been rocked. How to rekindle trust. How to try to continue a friendship when you are the only one who has realised there is a problem at all. Difficult. By audit, I do not mean judge. I mean assess whether something is good for you or bad. Positive or negative. Self absorbtion must be the scourge of our times.
Sometimes, friends sort of fade gently out of our lives, and we wake up one morning and realise that we have not spoken to or heard from them for a long time. Our lives are busy, and there are so many reasons we can come up with to justify the lack of time to keep up connections, but believe me, it is worth that time. If ever you come to a time in your life when the world sort of caves in on you, you will need every one of those special friends around you. I did. I do. This in no way negates the value and importance of family. That goes without saying. But there is another role which it is vital to fill, and that is the friendship one. Never ever take it for granted. It could well be your lifeline one of these days.
I do believe I have started to ramble. There is so much I wanted to say, but my mind is now whizzing up, down and round the bend, so that will have to do for now. Have a great weekend, everyone.