Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Is There a Friend in the House?

Someone is hurt at a convention. People rush to assist and the call is made: "Is there a doctor in the house?" Someone has a heart attack and the call for and ambulance is made. The house is burning and the call is made for fire fighters to bring their trucks and extinguish it.

There's a truly spooky commercial I hear on the radio a few times a day. A sea of voices say, "We are your friends." A few of those voices say, "We are the friends you work with." A few others say, "We are the friends you hang out with in Saturday night." This goes on through a few iterations. If I heard voices like that, I always think to myself, I'd have to check myself into the mental ward. Just then a single voice announces herself in so many words as the friend who is your psychiatric counselor. I knew it was coming. It's a public service announcement or some such encouraging people to support their friends who are having emotional problems. I always ask myself, what if the person having emotional problems doesn't have any close friends? Perhaps the call should be made for a friend. Thus the title of this post.

Some recent cartoons:

It's better that someone yell at you like Violet just did to Charlie Brown than to be ostracized by someone who tries not to hurt your feelings by it. That's the southern way, the sickeningly sweet, "Bless his heart."

I really identify with that poor apteryx. I couldn't say in person the things I'm able to type; and if I actually get the chance, I get so nervous I have trouble speaking and forming words. I practice talking to people when no one is listening so I'll have something coherent to say when the time comes. Pathetic, no?

The only person who calls me on my cell phone is my wife. I know other people have my number, but they generally never call. What does that say?

Well, I do have friends. In general, they're not overly close friends. My closest friends outside of my marriage are found on the Internet. I can hear the argument now: get off the computer and go out and make some real live friends. It doesn't happen easily for me, and I suspect that it doesn't happen easily for many of the people who may read this. Generally, people like to keep me at arm's length. I'm the kind of guy who can walk into a crowded room, meander to the corner and stand there alone. Some people may say hello and go on their way to another more interesting person. I see other people who can walk into a crowded room and not be able to make it to the corner without being swamped with people vying for their attention. Charisma is a mysterious thing.

I also know that many who read this are the type of people I just described: people who don't know what loneliness is. They've never felt the hopelessness of not being able to express themselves and be understood. They don't know what it's like not to have people who value their opinion enough to seek it out or to have people the number of which is significant enough to trust their leadership.

I wrote this post for both types of people. Listen to David Moss teach from Hebrews 10:24,25

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

The obvious message is to those who have more than their fair share of cool charisma. Be on the lookout for those watching from a lonely corner of the room who are NOT vying for your attention. They are the walking wounded. If you ask them if they need anything, they may be like the apteryx and not know what to say. If so, they need immediate attention. A person having a heart attack may not die anytime soon if nothing is done, but they need immediate medical attention. The socially inept need a friend like a heart attack patient needs to be tested to see if they need a stint, medication or bypass surgery.

The other side of the message is to my fellow lonesome doves. The tendency for those of us who have less than our fair share of cool charisma, when our condition wears on us, is to isolate ourselves. There is no shame in asking for help. It is the call for a friend as one who needs a physician for a physical ailment. If you call for your fellow Christians, they should respond. If they don't, God will be their judge.

I can hear another argument: we should be satisfied with the friends that God has given us - or the lack thereof. This is like saying that we should be satisfied with no food. Humans are design by God to be social creatures. As such, we need other people. I can hear another argument: we need to change in order to attract others. How, precisely? I've not a clue. I hear people keep a group of people enthralled when they talk about themselves. I do that and people tune me out. The only way I can keep a conversation is to get other people to talk about themselves. Then they go away. The arguments for the less than socially astute to be different don't fly.

Now, I must be fair. I'm not unliked. Actually, many people hold me in high esteem. They just don't con how to connect with me on my level and it intimidates them. I don't know how to connect with them until I know better how they respond to certain behavioral patterns and simplify my approach. However, I know people who are pretty much ignored. These are people I try to reach out to.

Are you reaching out? Are you lonely and need a friend? Are you reaching out to your Christian brothers or sisters as though to call for a doctor? Are you endowed with more friends than you have time for? Try reaching out to someone who drives off the people who only hang around for what they can get out of a friendship.

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Blogger Mark Pemberton said...

It's tough finding those who fit the category of being "close friends". My closest of friends moved to another state, thus our only fellowship is via a brief phone call or passing e-mails. Definitely miss his fellowship.

I've recently had to put distance between another friend whom I considered close. This has been pretty tough to do because I previously enjoyed his company. Now it seems to always be about him.

I'm left with "average" friends and acquaintances. Please don't get me wrong, I enjoy talking with my friends, but most often it is surface chat. Why no "close" friend? Who knows, but God does. Maybe He's preparing me for something. Maybe He's teaching me something. Or it may be that He's turning my focus on something else. Sure, this stage in my life limits my time (having two little girls whom I dearly love to spend time with), but I still have a small void of having fellowship with a close friend.

One piece of it is the intellect gap. Maybe it would be more appropriate to state "technical intellect". I do enjoy talking about computers and programming. There are only a few people in my circle whom I can talk technical, but none are Christians. My friend who moved was able to talk technical with me (to some degree) and have a deep and personal spiritual conversation. Maybe it was because we were at the same point spiritually but we meshed well. Maybe it was because we didn't always talk about ourselves. We were concerned for each other.

My prayerful desire is to find another friend like that, but I know God provides me with what I need. He knows what I want, but wanting and needing are two different things. His Provision is Perfect in every way. When I feel alone, I turn to His word to help me get my eyes off myself (staring into my abyss of self-pity). Once I'm seeking Him, then and only then am I useful to Him for His good pleasure.

Tue May 20, 10:10:00 AM GMT-5  

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