“The older you are when you die, the smaller your funeral.” I don’t know who said that but I have seen instances where that has been true. However, I don’t think that has to be the case. I agree that if your friends are all your age or older and as time passes, you could outlive them.
On the other hand, I am a strong believer that your influence should grow with age, not lessen. If so, wouldn’t that mean that the older I get, the larger my funeral celebration would be.
I realize that might be a Pollyanna view of life, but one toward which I strive.
The struggle most people have is trying to keep up with the friends they make throughout life. I love Facebook for this reason. In fact, while writing this blog, I just remembered two more people I wanted to add as “friends”. Over the last year I have connected with so many of my old friends, even way back to when I was counting my birthdays in single digits. Maybe it is a sign of getting older, but all of my friendships seem to mean more to me now than ever before. Before, I was so wrapped up in raising my children and pursuing a profession that I just didn’t have the energy and time needed to maintain relationships.
I am often amazed at those people who send out Christmas cards to all their friends each year. I found myself wanting to do the same but also not wanting to take out a loan to do it. If my friends were close by and I saw them casually a lot, those friendships were easier to maintain. Since I have lived and worked in several cities, I left behind some really good relationships that were challenging to maintain because of the distance. I hated that. Facebook has brought those friendships right back in front of me.
Now Facebook is great, but nothing beats a good “face to face” visit. Within this past year, I have sat on a very familiar porch in my neighborhood in Paden City, WV visiting with old playmates I had not seen in 45 years. I have shared stories with old classmates from New Martinsville, WV and been reminded of “the good ole days”. I was blessed to see some old friends in Overland Park, Ks as we celebrated the life of Chris Bullard after he beat us to heaven suddenly. I have returned to a church here in Amarillo I use to attend and hugged the necks of some old friends with which we use to share ministry. Soon, I hope to head to Overland Park again and to Jonesboro, AR, just to catch up with some of the people that meant so much to Janice and me during our tours of duty there. I can’t wait to see these people… face to face.
Not only do we need to strive to keep up with the friends we made in the past, but we need to keep making new friends throughout our life. I know the value of deep, long time friendships. They are special and rare. The problem becomes when we make those deeper friendships, we might leave a sign out to the rest of the world that says “Do Not Disturb” or “Friendship Quota Filled.” Keep meeting new people! The world is filled with individuals that would be beneficial for you to meet and visa versa. Without new friends there is a tendency to get stuck, thinking the same thoughts and doing the same things. New friends bring freshness to your otherwise stale life.
Something else helps in making new friends. Sometimes we need to get out of ourselves, stop being self conscious, judgmental or too selective. I have found that there are some people with whom I would not have chosen as a friend after first meeting that later, I thoroughly enjoyed. Yes, “evil companions corrupt good morals.” I not suggesting that you disregard this verse. However, I would be careful of dismissing people too soon. You might be passing over that precious jewel in the custom jewelry box.
The biggest challenge, of course, is to be a good friend. That really has many faces. Yes, it is always great when we can laugh, kid, and develop joyful memories with our friends by working or playing side by side. One of my wife’s dearest friends was developed right after the friend’s brother was killed in a car accident. She came and sat on Janice’s porch just weeping and needing to talk. Time and distance has separated that once special relationship. I hope it can rekindle for both of their sakes.
Recently I had an occasion where I had a good friend confront me on something that I had done to hurt him. It saddened me deeply to know I had done what I had that hurt him. He is not the kind of guy that goes around always saying, “You offended me.” On the contrary. So when he spoke, I listened… and learned. My friendship for him grew when he spoke to me in love and while he also assumed the best of me. He was a good friend to me that day. I hope I was to him too.
Friendship… we are not meant to live in a vacuum. If you don’t have as many friends as you would like, you only have to look as far as the mirror. Put yourself out there. Everyone’s life will be richer for it. Besides, don’t you want a larger funeral? 🙂