This post outlines a simple but powerful revelation about friends. Upon this realization, it completely altered the trajectory of my friendships for the better. It has held true within or without a disappointing situation. During hardship, however, it brings a whole new foundation of value, warmth, healing, and joy.
Just for a moment, think of the faraway friends whom you miss the most in your life. Can you see their faces? When you consider these friendships, do slideshows of treasured memories and hilarious episodes start to play in your mind? Do they know your history and hold your secrets? Have you seen each other through impossibly difficult situations?
Consider one such friend in particular, and trace back to the very first time you met. What brought you together? Did you work or go to school with one another? Did you live with or near each other? Were you part of the same organization, temple, team, church, or group of friends? What was it that made two strangers forge such a strong friendship?
What would you give to see them right now?
And what more would you give to have them in your everyday life again?
Faraway touch points
In the 80s (cue my permed mullet), AT&T urged all of us to “reach out and touch someone.” It was a metaphorical tagline to promote long distance telephone calls. Today we can defy distance even more profoundly with the advent of advanced technology and social media. Thanks to Skype, FaceTime, Periscope, Blab, and others, we are able to maintain and even initiate friendships that span continents using both audio and video. Emails, texts, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other apps allow us to stay connected throughout our day in a way that only intrudes if chosen. I am a strong advocate for all of these communications and would not be able to connect with so many of you if not for them!
Slightly incongruously, however, has been the familiar refrain that the benefits of person-to-person contact are being usurped by our predominant focus on technology. There are many articles out now about the importance of literally reaching out and touching someone.
I am a Skype devotee, but honestly, what I wouldn’t give to erase that boundary between us and step right into your screen! There is nothing that can compare to physically sharing the same space with someone.
With regard to that certain someone whom you miss so deeply right now, was there a season of your life when the two of you regularly spent time together in person?
The seasons of friendship
One of the hardest things for me to accept is that oftentimes friendships have seasons. We may find ourselves enjoying daily life in the company of one another, when a twist of plans will change the circumstances of our togetherness. While we can do well to “keep in touch,” the physical separation can be quite grievous.
There is something about consistent, physical camaraderie that can forge bonds of immense depth. Sometimes we don’t even realize it’s happening. When I survey the course of my life thus far, most of my closest friendships were formed in the seemingly unassuming context of everyday circumstances.
It’s not to say that the strongest relationships can’t develop in other ways, however routinely seeing one another can almost effortlessly establish an immovable cornerstone into the foundation of your friendship.
My life changing revelation
Even though my disappointing circumstances may lead me down a path that I would never have chosen, there is a beautifully unique collection of people in my everyday life now whom I would have never met otherwise.
This actually holds true whether or not you’re currently amidst disappointment. Consider today’s distinct landscape. Who are the faces whom you now see regularly?
Who are the people in your schools, in your neighborhood, at the grocery store, and at your workplace? What is the name of that person whom you never talk to in class or that unknown parent of your child’s classmate? Who are the servers at your favorite restaurant, the people who clean your apartment complex and collect your trash, the workers at your dry cleaners, the staff at your medical offices, and the neighbors with whom you don’t interact?
For a moment, choose one of these people whom you see regularly and picture his/her face.
This extraordinary soul..
This uniquely beautiful person who has dreams and scars…
Whom you see regularly.
But do not know.
Is the one.
Whom someone else in this world.
Misses the most.
There are people in this world who would give ANYTHING to see that person every day.
And you do.
Seeing those around us differently
These faces that we can all too easily pass by every day can actually be an un-mined treasure of friendship.
For some reason, we can often place a veil in between ourselves and others. It’s almost as if that person near us can go unnoticed and is not to be considered for friendship. We keep our neutral faces on when we interact, and we COMPLETELY miss the collection of individually held life experiences, insights, hopes, wonderful memories, and painful circumstances that reside within the soul of that person.
Why in the world do we do that?
Have you ever noticed that smiling at someone will oftentimes surprise you? It’s almost as if you’ve broken through a barrier, and astonishingly that person comes alive in a way that suddenly connects the two of you!
If unbreakable friendships can be formed in the context of routine physical togetherness, why not look for those opportunities now? Perhaps this disappointing situation is not an optimal one, but you would probably never have the chance to meet any of these people otherwise.
Opening yourself up
What would happen if we beheld the “unnoticed” people in our everyday lives differently?
Today’s landscape offers very special opportunities when it comes to friendship.
This is that treasured season in which you are seeing these people in person regularly! It is the gift that we long for so desperately with those that we miss.
WHO is it that we are passing by too quickly?
While not everyone will find a lifelong kinship with every single person in his/her day, our souls will still grow deeper as a result of more authentic interactions marked by our shared humanity.
And who knows?
Your new best friend could be right beside you.
Please share your stories
Do you have stories of unsuspecting or unlikely friendships? Is there someone dear to you whom you would have never met if not for a path that you traveled? I would SO love for you to share your stories with us in the comments.
In this recent climate of increased negativity, let’s revolutionize our world with friendship.
PS.. You know that person whom you brought to mind earlier? The person you miss the most? Why not also give them a call today? :)
PPS… Writing this post reminds me of one of my all-time favorite life lessons from this previous post.