If I Have More Friends than Ever, Why Do I Still Feel Alone?

January 12, 2016 in Karen's Soapbox

Thanks to Facebook, LinkedIn and a variety of other social networks, most of us are connected to a lot of people.  We have friends, or at least that’s what is implied by the 827 people who wanted to connect with us.  Sometimes we do reconnect with old friends, old acquaintances, people we went to high school or college with and think, “Oh, we’re still friends.”  Well, in some measure you are. But how many of those online “friends” actually are part of your core relationship base?  How many of those people share a real friendship with you? Maybe that requires more definition of what friendship really is.

Many people suffer from loneliness. They may have 4000 Facebook friends or live in a big city or belong to a good team of some sort, but left to themselves, left to consider who they might call when they were in trouble, they are hard pressed to come up with answers.  They might not be totally aware of who their real friends are.  I think networks like Facebook are a good thing if they remind us of people we care about and we have a chance to peek into their lives with the things they post.  I try to imagine though what it would mean if I had a “Facebook” friendship with God.  What if all I did was stop by to see a picture of His kids, or catch up on a great quote He wanted to highlight in Scripture? What if all I really knew of God was what we texted back and forth from time to time, wishing each other well?

If God and I only had a Facebook friendship,  I’m tempted to say that in a pinch, I still would not know that God was the one I could turn to when trouble landed on my doorstep.  Why? Probably because we would not have developed our relationship face to face.  We would not have had endless conversations on the phone or in prayer or driving in the car. We would not know each other well enough to know where to begin to give comfort or advice. Turning to God in my life means that we have a relationship.  We have a friendship that is real and solid and if the power went out across the globe, I would still not be alone;He would still be my friend.  If someone pulls the plug on Facebook, I’m not sure how many of us would find our “friends” again.

My intention is not to disparage Facebook and having friends there.  I  appreciate Facebook and I think there are many good things about being able to connect with people you know.  What I question is where do we connect with each other as true friends, where we find the support we need when we feel alone or overwhelmed or uncertain?  Your friends, your real friends love to be in your presence, to see your smiling face and listen to your heart.  They love to hug you and share the meaningful aspects of life with you.  They pray for you and stand up for you and hold you close.  Those are the friends that make your life worthwhile, that keep you smiling and remind you of your great value and incredible worth.

Maybe your friendship with God serves as an example.  I know for sure that He cares more about you than anything else.  He wants to be your friend face to face, heart to heart, soul to soul.

Blessings to my beautiful friends on Facebook and to those who hold a place in my heart forever.  I’d love to see any of you, any time, face to face. And maybe, what I’m also hoping is that our friendship network would evolve passed a random glimpse of each other in the hallway of life.   You’re welcome to stop by with a word of encouragement or a good chocolate chip cookie just because you want us to be together.  I want friendship to mean that we never feel all alone.



We All Need Friends…and Foes!

August 2, 2011 in Inspirational

Most of us would agree that we need friends.  We need those people who love us just as we are, forgive us when we’re wrong, and laugh at us when we’re a bit crazy.  These are the people who put wind in our sails and keep us moving along our path of life.  These are the people who hold up a mirror for us and help us to see ourselves in a new light.  Yes, they are a gift to us.  BUT, what happens when even the best of friends have a falling out, or families become estranged, or children walk away? What then?  It feels like the enemy has walked into the camp and nothing is quite the same.

A quote by Octavia Butler says, “Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing.  There is a time for silence.  A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny.  And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when its all over.”  This bit of wisdom can serve us well.  Knowing when to be quiet is just as important as knowing when to speak up.  I can’t help thinking that God may well adopt this rule for us too.  There are definitely times when I am pretty sure He allows me to hurl myself into my own destiny.  It usually isn’t exactly the one He might have designed for me, but the good news is, He has a lot of patience.  I’m pretty sure I require a lot of patience so this is a good thing.  His silence though, and that of your friends when they are choosing to back off, or seeming more like foes than friends, can be your winning lottery ticket.  That’s right!  You may have just won the opportunity to take a giant step forward, to be catapaulted out of your comfort zone and forced to look at the world in a whole new way.

Maybe this is the reason Jesus taught us to bless our enemies.  Enemies can be valid teachers.  Enemies can keep you on your toes, mindful of seeking the right step, actively pursuing the right opportunities meant for you.  I’m not advocating that we all go around and slap each other aside the head and become each other’s adversaries.  I am suggesting though that sometimes a friend, a real friend who sees everything good that’s possible in you, will disappoint you.  Sometimes a real friend is working, even unconsciously, for your good when they choose to be silent or walk away.  It’s worth considering.

Then, when you come back together, you can echo the words of Camus, who said, “Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead.  Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow.  Just walk beside me and be my friend.”  I’m so grateful for all the people who walk beside me.  Warmest blessings to all of you…my love-you-a-bunch friends…today and always.


When the Light Goes Up in Heaven

February 24, 2010 in Family and Friends

Those of us who are bound by gravity have no choice but to contend with the light and the dark.  We spend a good share of our time walking in one or the other, sometimes knowingly, other times just walking.  We wrestle with the things that remain uncertain and yet embrace those things that draw us in and give us peace.  My friend Judy has joined the light brigade, those who are now living in the joy of continual Grace, laughing on the breezes of love.  I’m excited for her today as I imagine the rush of old friends and family coming to embrace her there.  I see the smiles everywhere for a job well done, a life well lived, a woman well loved.   I can’t help but smile a little too because the scene is just so glorious, in fact, it’s heavenly.

A long time ago we attended the same school, grew up in the same small town.  We were nurtured on hometown values and family and the things that make the world seem safe and small.  We walked a bit of the path together back then, and then disappeared from each others view as we stepped out into new arenas of learning, new cities and experiences.  A long time passed and then we were blessed to find ourselves at a little table sharing lunch and laughter and life and we were both awed at how far we’d come and yet how close we felt about where life had taken us.  We both still embraced our childhood dreams, our hopes nurtured so long ago.  We were different women, but so similar in so many ways and we were encouraged by that fact.  We shared a bond that made us connect in a way we could never have known years before.

I’m a little sad that I can’t be there as friends and family gather to say goodbye this week, but I’m still smiling that we said hello many times over the past few years and that in her illness she knew that I was one of many friends sending up daily prayers for her well-being.  I’m so grateful for her, for the love we shared as friends, for the light she brought to my life and the opportunity we had to know each other.  We’re so blessed when we have real friends, people who see us and love us just as we are.  It’s the people who wipe our tears and make us laugh at ourselves that bring meaning and light to our lives.

I know there’s an extra bright light in heaven just now and I know that we’re all blessed by having had Judy in our lives.  Her light will shine with every thought, every sweet memory revisited, every child who knew her as a teacher or a mom or a grandmom, and every person who knew her as a friend.

I’m thanking God for her today, for the chance to have shared the heart of a very special woman, and I’m offering a standing ovation for all her life has meant.  She’s worth the celebration here.   I wonder if we can outdo the celebration in heaven though because the light just got brighter!

With love to Judy, her family and friends…may God bless you all.


For Those You Call “Friend”

January 12, 2010 in Inspirational

George Eliot reminded us that part of the reason we share space on this planet is to make life less difficult for each other.  So it is with friends who strive to be there for you,  ready to lift you over the heartbreaks and unexpected disappointments of life, and ready at a moment’s notice to wrap you warmly in a cloak of heartfelt joy.  Today, let’s honor the joys of friendship, the ones that make life far less difficult!

Even Jesus elevated the nature of being friends when He told His disciples, “I have called you my friends.”  Certainly that is a friendship that changed their lives, their attitudes and their direction in a way that nothing else could have done.  Some friendships are like that!  Some people come into your life and you know from that moment on, everything will be different.  Oh, it might not be easier in the sense that you now have fairy tale dreams that come true, and it might not be filled with absolute clarity or direction or purpose, but still it is changed.  It’s changed because now you know you’re not alone.  Now you know that someone else is paying attention, noting your dreams, praying for your direction and hoping with you that life will now be less difficult.

Some people look at success and think that it has something to do with bigger houses, better bank accounts, more trophies and things they can somehow achieve on their own.  Some people look at success as getting out of bed each day, putting their feet on the floor and letting go of any need to design the day in a way that seems to give them control.  The truth is that there are many measures of success and no one of them is actually better than others, unless you are willing to take a little inventory of who you are and what you have to share in relationship with others.  You may discover that your success is best measured in knowing your friends and in knowing how to be a friend.

Perhaps we take friendship as a given, assume that everybody has friends and that it’s no great thing to establish one or two or twelve others to walk with you on your journey.  Perhaps it’s so for some, but not for me.  For me, it’s friends who support my life when it’s falling awry and I can’t quite understand the direction of it.  It’s friends who cheer me on when I’m making a decision that doesn’t fit what others might think I should do.  It’s friends who are there when you question whether God has forgotten about you, or if your family will ever really understand you.  Friends are the cornerstones, the family that walks with you every step of the way, helping you get safely home.  Friends help make life less difficult for each other.

As we start the New Year, let’s salute our friendships, the ones we’ve had for years, the ones that are still growing, and the ones we will make as the year unfolds.  We were put here to learn from each other, to grow together, and to discover all that God meant for us to be and nothing is a more powerful teacher than a true friend.

To my own dear friends, I offer heartfelt thanks.  You make such a difference in my life!