Monday, September 15, 2008

Making Friends

A woman from New York named Maureen listened to the archived talk I gave on helping those who help us on during National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week and she wrote me with a most interesting question.

During the interview I had talked about a woman who asked, "How are you?" I had answered, "Do you really want to know?" and she turned to walk away as she said, "Not really." I was stunned. I had said that because I was becoming unsure of how honest I should be since most seemed to want to hear, "I'm fine."

I then described how it is helpful to have a friend who tries to understand our difficulties due to our illness. The kind of friend who will ask, care, and occasionally help us when we're in need. Maureen asked how we find that kind of friend. She said she's moved around a lot and doesn't have a good support system. I can relate because Ray and I have moved around some as well and I have wanted friends wherever we lived.

I'd like to share how I have made this kind of friend. The first thing I do is ask God to make me a friend to someone who needs and wants what I can give, and I ask him to bring people into my life that will do the same. I don't leave it there though. I attend a local Bible women's study or one at the church we attend because I've made friends in this kind of setting before.

When I am in the small group of this Bible study where we're asked to share about ourselves I am vulnerable about having an illness (MS) that makes life challenging at times. I also tell how God is working in my life because of it. This oftentimes causes someone to come up to me with compassion or a similar health concern.

If this happens, or I sense God is leading me to reach out to a certain person, I put myself out by asking that woman to meet me for coffee or lunch, or to come over to my house for coffee. Since the only way to really have a friendship is to be a friend, I want to be a good listener and show I care. As we get to know each other I learn more about how to meet her needs--which may only be to listen, it's a valuable gift we all need--and I share more about my own difficulties.

Then, if I need someone's help I take a risk and ask her if she can meet it--drive me somewhere or push my wheelchair in a mall to help me Christmas shop. I never know when someone will desire to get a blessing by helping me without asking them. I've made several friends who were just looking for someone to help because it gave them a purpose. When I asked they jumped at the chance and we developed a wonderful relationship because of it.

I'd enjoy any feedback you have to this blog topic!

To making new friends . . .!


1 comment:

Maureen Hayes said...


Thank you for what is one of the most concrete answers to this question I have seen in a long time. I know I have to be a friend to have friends, but how to meet them? Your specifics on not only praying, but places you have met people and when and how to open up about your illness and your needs were extremely helpful.

I will try all the things you mentioned and I am sure, with God's help, that I will meet the right friend for me.

Thank you for posting on my question and for giving such a thoughtful and helpful response. I posted about being a friend today on my blog and would love to get some feed back from you or your followers.

God Bless you,