Today the church celebrates Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week. It commemorates the day Jesus triumphantly rode into Jerusalem and was greeted by friends and fans waving palms. I’ve heard the story for years but just this week learned something new about the day: those who welcomed Him as He rode into town on a donkey were not the same people who just days later demanded His crucifixion. In fact, those in the crowd waving the palms weren’t even from Jerusalem. They had made the journey with Jesus. They were His friends.
This got me thinking and reinforced something that has been on my mind and heart all week: friends.
I totally agree. I’ve never been one for big crowds or big groups and have forever treasured a few trusted girlfriends rather than many. Friends are gold to me and I value them immensely. Sadly though, I’ve become somewhat of a home body in recent months. I love being at home. I am never bored in my house. I’m an expert and happy nester. I also love writing and surfing the web. But, writing this blog has not really made me any friends, per se. Still, like I said, I love my friends. I’ve always told Kristen and the kids in my preschool class that you have to be a good friend to have good friends and that no one has to be your friend; you have to make someone want to be your friend. Note to self: maybe I need to put a little more practice into what I preach, as sometimes I just don’t reach out as much as I probably should. This I regret and I am vowing to correct.
Just this week I had a three hour lunch with a friend I don’t see often but have known for more than 20 years. It was so wonderful and so rewarding. I also called a dear friend of mine this week, which is not something I do often. As I’ve told her before, I’m not a big phone talker but I know she enjoys it so I made the call and was happy to do so. She’s important to me so it’s important that I call her.
Last night my husband and I attended Palm Sunday mass and then went to our club to get some take home dinner. While there, I ran into several ladies whose friendships I value. Some of the women had just finished a golf tournament and others were just hanging around outside on a beautiful Saturday evening. I had chosen not to play in the golf tournament for one reason or another but it dawned on me: I have made many good friends playing golf. One of the ladies I got to know several years ago when we played in a tennis league together. It was so wonderful to see them all and made the “Carla you need to get out more” voice scream even louder!
I saw that post on Facebook this week and wholeheartedly agreed with it. Many people, including my husband, make fun of those of us who enjoy Facebook but through the social media site, I am able to communicate with and keep in touch with friends I probably wouldn’t without it. Yes, I know it’s not the same as seeing people or talking to them, but it’s better than not being a part of their lives at all, right?
I’ve always adored the first “Sex and the City” movie, mainly due to its depiction of solid friendships. Where would Carrie have been without the support of Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda after Big left her standing on the steps of the New York Public Library on their wedding day? One of my favorite scenes is when normally polite and demure Charlotte screams “NO!” at Big in the middle of the street and I melt when Samantha feeds the grieving Carrie in her Mexican resort bed. In a word, priceless.
Another movie I love is “Goodwill Hunting” but the following dialogue raises a whole other aspect of friendship:
Sean: Do you have a soul mate?
Will: Define that.
Sean: Someone you can relate to, someone who opens things up for you.
Will: Sure, I got plenty.
Sean: Well, name them.
Will: Shakespeare, Nietzsche, Frost, O’Conner…
Sean: Well that’s great. They’re all dead.
Will: Not to me, they’re not.
Sean: You can’t have a lot of dialogue with them.
I’m right there with Will Hunting. Although I of course have friends who are alive and who inspire me, I do love my books and have them in almost every room of my house. But as Sean makes startlingly clear, I can enjoy them and learn from them, but they are no substitute for real live friends. Neither can TV or the internet.
Real friends are those I have in my neighborhood. Those I work with. Those I’ve worked with in past years and still get together with. They are my college girls who I adore and cherish. They are long-time friends who I “talk” to almost daily whether by text or online. They are the moms of Kristen’s friends and the wives of Smitty’s friends. They are those in my bible study and book club. In short, they are women I do things with. They teach me things, make me laugh, support me, and comfort me. I need them in my life and I need to show them more often.
Experts say people with strong support networks of trusted friends are happier than those without. A class at Stanford University recently verified this when it studied the relationship between stress and disease. In it, it was revealed that one of the best things a man can do for his health is to be married to a woman but for women, the best thing is to nurture their relationships with their girlfriends. It makes perfect sense to me!
Women connect with each other differently than men do. We share feelings and we share our deepest, darkest secrets. Not only does this make us feel good, it’s good for our health. True support systems and quality shared time scientifically creates more serotonin, the neurotransmitter that creates a feeling of joy in the female body. In fact, the study showed that spending time with “the girls” is as a healthy as working out and that not creating and maintaining quality personal relationships can be as dangerous to your health as smoking. You don’t need to tell me twice to lunch or travel with my girls!
Jesus learned who His real friends are and I so have I. So, to all of you reading this who I count as a trusted friend, thank you. Please know that I’m forever thinking about and praying for you. I value you and I can’t wait to see you!