Monday, August 2, 2010

Friend, Friendly, Friendliest (a.k.a. Good, Better, Best)

For years and years, I looked forward to the Sears catalog arriving at our house. In particular, the Christmas catalog was the best. Hundreds of pages filled with images conjured up visions of what it would be like to have that "Easy Bake Oven" and "Creepy-Crawler" maker. But somewhere in between those pages holding my highest interest was the section on home goods and appliances; something slightly irrelevant to a young girl. But even the eyes of a youngster could see a pattern. The catalog writers promoted their goods as a continuum of value. Hence, good, better, best.

I got to thinking about that tonight. On the way out the door, one of our sons (who shall remain nameless) said, "Just because you don't have any friends to go hang with...."

Somewhere between taking offense and laughing raucously at such a statement, my brain lit up when millions of synapses connected all at once--and trust me, that doesn't happen too often these days. Though I held my tongue, my mind screamed out, "Whoa there, Buckaroo. That's just enough."

Gladly, we do have friends; lots of them. Some are the good kinds. You know the type. We can remember their names (most of the time), carry on conversations and share a few laughs. They are certainly more than acquaintances but we may not be stoked about spilling our guts to them about our deepest concerns. Most of us could fill a page with the names with these kind of friends. That's a good thing.

Then we have the better kinds. The relationship goes a little deeper. We share common ground whether it be work, families or faith. We might get together over supper or even take to the road on a joint vacation. The walls of our lives become more transparent and our inadequacies difficult to hide. But still, there is a back hallway that remains off limits, some things better left untouched. The names of these friends could also fill a page--as long as it isn't the size of a large legal pad.

But finally, we have those friends who mean the world to us; the best kind. These are the people that would drop everything to tend to you. If good news is the topic of the day, they will know it before the sun sets. When difficulties come, their number is on your speed dial and in your email address book. They know when to ask probing, uncomfortable questions and they know when to keep their mouth shut. They know how to encourage. They take extra care not to discourage. They know when chocolate is needed; lots and lots of fine dark chocolate. They will laugh and cry with you, having plenty of tissues on hand for either occasion. When they say they will pray, they do. When they say they will help, they come armed with all that is needed, even if that means cleaning a yucky bathroom or helping to tile a wall. They do not lead astray. They keep your best interest in mind. Even if circumstances or miles separate, the friendship cannot be extinguished. We are fortunate if the names of these kind of friends can fill a small note card. Actually, make that a Post-it note.

I have a special group of friends. We call ourselves the "Sisters of Mercy." There is little that we don't know about each other (although I did find out today that one of them was a waitress at a swanky restaurant for some period of time.) Ladies Night out is our therapy session, locks colored and toenails painted in the process. We know what is going on--or not--with all of our kids. There is no pretense of perfection; just simple honesty. There is a code of respect about what is said and what should never be repeated. The Sisters are quick to come to the aid of one who is hurting. You can act goofy and look ridiculous and they won't care. They may even join in. They will love, laugh, hug, encourage, commiserate, and yes, even admonish when necessary.They'll tell you if your new haircut sucks. It is like the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, only better. Much, much better. For what binds us together is not based on emotion or convenience or similarities. If you saw us all together, we are as different as night and day, salt and pepper, hot and cold. What binds us together in sisterhood is our Father, from who we all find our being and purpose.

My son reminded me of how grateful I am for my Post-it note friends. Thank you, girls. I treasure y'all (which is Southern for "The whole stink'n lot of you").

If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
(Ecclesiastes 4:10)


Rick Gray said...

If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Ecclesiastes 4:10

Today's devotion concerns death and are we prepared to die. To me death and friends are intertwined together. Without friends, family, etc, who helps hold us accountable when we start down the wrong trail? Who picks us up when we fall? Who calls us back when we miss the correct turn on the trail? Friends. We can't do without them. I need them.

Rebekah Trittipoe said...

Preach it, Brother (and incidentally, a great friend!)

Rick Gray said...

We are great friends and thank you.

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