Thursday, April 28, 2016

THE BEST FRIEND YOU WISH YOU NEVER HAD

Everybody loves the gregarious, outgoing, fun guy.  You invite him to a dinner party to ensure that everybody has a good time with stimulating conversation.  

The quiet, withdrawn, meek person is much more difficult to love.  They take patience, understanding, and sometimes quiet.  When you really want to chat or be distracted, this is not the person that you call to mind.  They take more work.  But they can be much better for you than the fun loving guy in the same way taking the time to peel and eat an orange is better for you than ripping open and woofing down a bag of Value Time Cheese Curls is.

Over the next few weeks we are going to occasionally visit with some of these friends of yours.  You may not think of them as friends.  You may have crossed them off of your invite list.  And I know they can be a little bit difficult and time consuming, but they have your best interest at heart (most of the time) and have much more to offer than may first appear.




Today we are going to visit with one of your friends that St. Francis nicknamed Lady Loneliness.  Gads.  I used to avoid her like the plague.  Not only did she make me feel terrible about myself (or let myself feel terrible about myself in her presence) I was mortified to be seen with her in public.  I avoided her at all costs.  I would get together with my friends and never, ever invite her.  (It was silly really.) And if she did show up, I’d move the activities in such a way as to leave her behind.

Then one day, as a teenager, I was stuck in downtown Barberton and would not be seeing anybody for about an hour and I was hungry.  Super hungry.  There was a Taco Bell across the street from the Magic City Shopping Center and I decided to go over a grab a taco in order to tide me over.  Don’t you know it?  Who do I run in to?  Lady Loneliness.  I was like, “Oh dang it!  Of course I run in to her here.”  It was too late.  There was no way I could avoid her.  There she was waving and saying hi and asking if I was going in to the Taco Bell too.  I’m ashamed to say that I wasn’t very nice about it, sighed passive aggressively, and said something like, “Come on, let’s go.”

We sat down at a booth and began to eat what I remember now as a lenten special  (Lots of beans.)  I was surprised to find that I really didn’t mind her presence at all.  As a matter of fact, that day in particular, I was rather fond of her.  That night I even remarked to my parents how excited I was that went out to lunch with her and didn’t mind it - in fact - enjoyed it.

In that little bit of time she did some pretty remarkable things for me.  She started me on a journey of liking myself more.  I am Okay with my company and my own thoughts.  She planted the seed of confidence that I could be in public with her and it was Okay.  I didn’t need (wanted, but didn’t need) the right others with me to feel as though I was important.  It was incredibly liberating.  The world got bigger for me and more full of color.  

That is not to say that I’m always glad when she all of a sudden shows up, waving and wanting to hang out.  Sometimes I think, “Oh, not today!”  But even on those days, her visits are no longer filled with dread.  And really, those are the days she has more to teach me.  


So let me recommend her to you.  She really is a good friend, or at least she tries to be.  I know she can be annoying and often it seems her greatest benefit is when she leaves, but by embracing her when she comes across your path, she’ll help you grow in self love, confidence, and the freedom of never having to run and hide from her.

2 comments:

Pat said...

Father,

How wonderful if we can instill this understanding in our young people, so that they can resist negative peer pressure and thereby avoid the trouble that accompanies it.

Sara Beis said...

As an only child I walked with loneliness early in life. Not knowing better - she became my good friend as I learned to play alone in her company - to take in the beauty of the world around me. Perhaps that's why practices of meditation and silent prayer weren't hard to learn and put in practice. I hope that other readers hear your suggestion to make friends with this valuable friend. Yes, she can teach you alot!
Thank you, Father V! God bless!