I recently told a good friend that I needed a “Waiting to Exhale” evening. You know the kind of evening where you can sit around on the floor with your closest friends, share some good food, and just be transparent- talk about life, laugh, cry, share your joy, your pain- offer the support that only a close friend can offer- say the stuff that only a real friend has the guts to say- hold each other accountable. Have you ever had one of those evenings? It seems that fewer people are. It’s unfortunate because people need it more than ever. So many people are in physical, spiritual, personal, and emotional crisis. They are falling apart and feeling hopeless. Folks are smiling on the outside, while barely keeping it together on the inside. They are going to church every Sunday and Wednesday, but are often leaving empty and turning to destructive habits.
Many of us don’t even know what is going on in our friend’s lives. Oh, we think we do. We read their status on facebook. We read their tweets but when was the last time we actually “personally connected?” With texting, facebooking, twittering and other forms of social media, we don’t even have to see each other. We are often deceived into thinking that we are connecting with one another when we send them a “LOL,” “OMG,” or “TTYL” in a post, text, or email. That’s okay sometimes and it’s okay for your associates, but it is a poor substitute to looking into the eyes of a friend in order to see what is behind the smile. We need to hear the voices of our friends. We need to hear the hearts of our friends- hear what is not being said in words. We have to be active in each other’s lives.
People are hurting and often dealing with all types of issues and illnesses. They are often afraid to show their pain out of fear of being too burdensome. A young lady told me recently, “When I showed my pain, people left. So, I stop showing it.” Recently, a young influential man who I knew died a tragic death and no one seemed to have a clue as to how difficult life had gotten for him. People said, “He looked okay. He sounded okay, so…” He had plenty of people who called him friend. He sent out a bunch of texts checking on other people but he himself was either left unchecked or unaccountable. No one attended to his heart, his hurt or his emerging self destructive behavior. He seemed to have had everything but at the end of the day, he had no one to honestly share himself with- no one to be transparent with.
Listen, we don’t get to stop being real friends to our friends- not if we’re real friends. Real friendship comes with real responsibility. We have to show up in each other’s lives. If your friend is experiencing illness, show up! Go sit with her while she receives chemotherapy or dialysis. Find a way to be supportive, EVEN if she says, “I’m good. I don’t need anything.” If your friend accomplishes something, show up! Celebrate him! Show up when stuff is going on. Show up when stuff is not going on. Plan an evening just to find out what is going on. Don’t fill the evening with unnecessary activities. Spend time exhaling. I know we all lead such busy lives, but at the end of the day, let the truth be said, you take time out for who and what is important to you.
We rally for church and political events. We rally for sports events (Go Detroit Lions!! Go MSU Spartans!! Excuse my shameless plugs). This week, let’s start rallying for the important people in our lives. Let’s cheer them on. Let’s help heal their broken spirits. Let’s laugh! Let’s encourage! Let’s pray! Let’s hold each other accountable for making better choices. Let’s help each other find a way out or a way through. Let’s help each other… umm… live. Yeah, that’s right. It’s that serious. Let’s take time to get in one another’s corner and honestly listen as well as honestly share of ourselves. Let the truth be told, you need it just as much. Exhale.