“…we stick for life.”

friendsonbeachThere are some people who will only be in our lives for a brief moment, friends who will be there for a short while, and yet others who will last for the long haul.  Amidst the vast (or very few) friends we have, usually one or two rise to the top and are termed the “best”. The ones who are there no matter what; the ones you can count on through thick and thin. Finding such a friend can be real challenge, but when we find them, we stick for life. It doesn’t matter the distance, nor the difficulty; a “best friend” is there forever.”  (thehomeschoolmomblog)

I have been mulling over a lot of things lately.  As we have been struggling with decisions about our lives and our living situation (because we have to move from this particular house) it came to me that in all the choices, in all the scenarios I played out in mind, and in the many discussions I have had with my husband, it was never about the house we lived in, the car we drove, the things we have around us.  We realized, through this period of quiet discernment, that we can live in pretty much any house, in any city, in any state (we probably could even live in another country like Canada), working at any sort of job; because when it comes down to it, we really don’t move away from, or quit, the friends we have gained along the way.  I also believe, that in the end, there will be very few friends standing around the bed I someday die in; that more than likely, it will be my family.

The blog I quoted and the photo I started this blog with, well, both of them struck a cord in me about friendships and family.  The people I would consider my good friends are more like an extended family to me.  We have seen each other through births and deaths, living almost next door to one another and living thousands of miles apart.  The distance does not count in a true friendship; it’s the mileage you share along the journey of life.

St Dorotheos of Gaza

My friends are my partners on this journey to our final home with God.  They have boosted me up when I was down, and I have held them up when they have sought my strength. They have taught me, encouraged me, and chastised me when I needed it. My friends have been the Face of Christ when I needed to see Him the most.  While I was searching my heart and my soul, not once did a reflection have to do with anything other than who we surrounded ourselves with.

A recent morning show had some sort of dating guru on there who spoke to the idea that our personalities and our successes are directly related to the five people we have closest to us. He opined that if one of those five instrumental people were not making us better people, then we should cut them out of our lives. It sounds brutal, but there is some truth to that.  Abbot Tryphon, once again, spoke some truths that hit me.  As he said in his morning blog, “One more reason why we need to surround ourselves with friends who are committed Christians, and who know the importance of living lives that are centered on Christ.”  And if there are people who seem to poke into your daily life and have an undo influence on your life choices, and they do NOT share your journey towards God, or who tend to make you less than you can be, then it is time to move on. They have been placed in our path to distract us, or perhaps to strengthen us in our resolve to live a Christ-centered life.  We have all be caught up in fads and have come through them, scratching our heads and asking, “Why?”  Certain people in our lives can be a “fad” as well.

There are also those who were placed in our lives for a time and have been a good friend to us.  We need to discern when it is time to allow that relationship to drift away.  It is okay, in real life, to “de-friend” people.  On Facebook, there is a lot of controversy if you “de-friend” someone.  But honestly, is staying in contact with everyone you have ever known, really worth keeping as “friends” on some social networking site?  I saw a comic recently where a widow was standing at the back of the Church, with her husband laying in his coffin at front of the altar. She saw one or two people in the pews and commented to her minister, “Gee, I though the Church would be packed. He had more than 300 Facebook friends!”  We need to define what friendship is to us, and who truly is our friend. And we also need to consider the role our family members play in our lives, being our friends as well as family members.

When we were infants, our world was the length our vision took in – at birth it was to the face of the person holding us, usually our parents.  As we grew and explored our world, we took in more people; family members (like grandma’s!) and friends of our parents, neighbors.  Gradually our worlds expanded as we entered school. I remember a driving lesson we had in high school. A new freeway was not opened yet (I dare not say which one because I will so date myself) and they allowed Driver’s Ed on the roadways.  When I entered the freeway, using the on-ramp, there were miles of empty roadway before me. I remember trembling at how far it seemed to go and how small my hometown seemed right then.  As I grew up and traveled, and expanded my education, my world also expanded. I added many friends along the way. I have friends from kindergarten through to people I have just met in the last year or two. My friendships encompass my lifeline, to date.  But as I am getting older, my world is once again contracting. The importance of who is around me is shrinking drastically, and it is becoming more discernable. So when that dating guru on morning television spoke about the 5 people around you, it did not seem so far out of whack to me.  Because as I have aged, so have my friendships.  It is time to allow some to fade away.  I will hold these people in my heart, because they touched me and helped me grow along the journey of my life, but from now on, I think it will be okay to have my couple of “best” friends, and my family. I am content with that.

For each of us, when it is time to move on, we take with us those people (in our hearts, if not physically with us) who lift us up and make us better, and who share our life’s journey to God.  Within my close-knit circle are my very few true friends, and my family, and I know they will stand beside me until I see the face of God.  What a comfort!

Orthodox monastery

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