The colors of autumn are a mixture of oranges, browns, greens, yellows and yes, purple. Living in the desert I don’t see much in the way of vibrant autumn colors. Why in the midst of winter am I writing about autumn? Like the seasons in nature our lives have seasons. My current life season is autumn and it too has a blend all its own.
Autumn, a season of transition; a time of letting go, reevaluating and adjusting to physical as well as relational challenges. We all know in the process of aging our bodies begin to break down. Everyone experiences aging differently, yet nevertheless, our bodies no longer function the way they did when we were in our 20s, 30s, and 40s, even on into our 50s. Often in our mid-60s we say goodbye to a career which filled our days and provided a sense of purpose. As our bodies age, many must say goodbye to sports once enjoyed, such as tennis, golf or bowling. Many bid a fond farewell to hobbies such as gardening, hiking and others requiring physical stamina. They must say no to social commitments they once embraced. To be honest we know these changes are coming, but in our younger years we don’t, or cannot, fully understand their impact.
The one thing I didn’t see coming in this season of life was the change in friendships. Many of the relationships I’d built through work and doing ministry in my church changed when my circumstances changed. We all made the commitment that even though I wouldn’t be in the office every day, or serving alongside them in ministry regularly, we’d keep the friendship going. Don’t get me wrong, we’re still friends, but the friendship is different, time and distance changes relationships. The day-to-day contact and phone calls lessen; the emails and the texts grow farther and farther apart. And time spent together, not so often. When I was younger I didn’t understand why the more “senior” generation felt their life didn’t matter anymore. As there friendships grew fewer and fewer so did their sense of not belonging. Being in the autumn of my life has provided a deeper understanding and clarity.
I didn’t understand how difficult, yes difficult, developing new friendships in the so-called “golden years” of life would become. I’ve been reading “The Gift of Friendship” by author Dawn Camp. It’s a collection of short stories written by a variety of writers, you guessed it, on the subject of friendship. In this book fellow blogger, Crystal Stine shares how God is calling her to deeper relationships. She begins her story with the following, “Making friends as an adult is much harder than I had anticipated. I always assumed by this stage in the game I would have mastered the art of small talk and would have this uncanny ability to attract new friends wherever I went. I’m 30 years old (okay… 31 in April if we’re being transparent) and I still struggle to find friends. Twitter followers? Sure, those are easy. Facebook friends I’ve never actually met in real life or interacted with… ever? Yep. Got ‘em.” I couldn’t help but chuckle as I thought to myself, “Thirty-one and you’re having difficulty making friends… wait till your twice that age”!
God created us for relationship; first with him and then with others. I get a sense there are many people, especially those in the late autumn and winter seasons of life, who are lonely and hungry for friendships. We live in a fast-paced, technology driven, world where everything is almost instant. Email made receiving a message from friends almost instantaneous. Gone are the days of waiting for a letter to arrive over the course of days, weeks or months. Texting quicker and faster still, has made email almost antiquated. Many feel the technology of today has weakened the bond of friendship. Perhaps, they’re right. Like it or not technology is here to stay. I believe we can use it to discover new friendships and deepen those we already have. With that said, we must guard against technology replacing face-to-face friendship. We know babies will die for lack of physical touch… so will we all!
Making friends requires a certain level of transparency. We’ve got to be vulnerable and not be afraid to say, “I need friends in my life”. We’ve got to be aware, have eyes to see, really see others in our lives and ask the question, “Do they need time with me? Do they need a friend?” We have a precious gift we can offer to others. It’s free and costly all in the same vein. It’s the gift of our time. Is there someone in your life or maybe several someone’s who would benefit from the gift of your time.
I love the way author Dawn Camp states it, “We need our people. We need friends standing in our corner, cheering us on, believing in us. We need listening ears, sharers of inside jokes, keepers of secrets. We need those who laugh when we laugh, cry when we cry, and then pass the chips and salsa. We need someone to look us in the eye and say, ‘You’re my favorite.’
Does someone need to hear you say, “You’re my favorite”?
Until next time,