“What are three things you can do to be a better friend to the people in your life?”
First, I should note that I actually don’t have a lot of friends. That sounds horrible, but the thing is, when you come from a large family, you don’t actually need friends. And when you are an introvert, as I am, friends on top of ten aunts, ten uncles, and 157 cousins (at last count) are an invitation to insanity. That said, I do have a number of online friends, and I cherish these friendships. They seem to ebb and flow according to the busyness of our lives, our various illnesses (we’re all Of a Certain Age), and the seasonal pulls on our time; but it’s a comfort to me to know that they are there.
However, I must also note that at my advanced age, I have actually lost touch with most of my cousins, and have only recently found a few of them via Facebook. It’s great seeing familiar faces again, and catching up with their lives! And the older I grow, the more grateful I am for my huge extended family. Having lost them once, I’m not planning to lose them again. So, under the influence of this prompt, I’m pushed to find three things that would make me a better friend, and the most important of these is:
1. Pray for them. Thankfully, we all believe in God, my cousins and I (and my online friends), so this is an easy one — I don’t have to worry about stepping on their spiritual toes.
2. Keep in touch with them. I once found a teabag tag with a saying so striking that I tore it off the teabag and kept it: “Go often to your friend’s house, or weeds choke up the unused path.” Every time I see it, it brings me up short, reminds me that there are people I need to stay in touch with because they are valuable to me; they enrich my life, and I hope I enrich theirs.
3. Laugh with them, cry with them, rejoice with them, grieve with them. Sometimes all you need from a friend is to know that they exist at the hard times in your life; sometimes, all you need from a friend is someone to share your overwhelming joy with. My friends (and my relatives!) do this for me; I hope I return the favor, but if not, I need to. More importantly, I want to.
It took me a long time to find friends, and even longer to realize that I had friends all along, in the form of my cousins. May we all continue to be important to each other.