Have you ever missed an opportunity to be a friend when it really would have mattered to someone? Someone who was a friend to you when you were in need?
A few years ago, our family was going through a difficult time. My wife was pregnant with our 3rd child, Ava, and she began to feel off. After some “at-home diagnosis” and a trip to Kroger to get her blood pressure taken, we realized there was something amiss.
That was the beginning of three months in and out of the hospital. Our daughter was born two months premature and spent time in the NICU for 60 days. During this time, my wife pretty much lived at the hospital, and we took turns spending time with our little sweetheart.
With two young kids at home and a busy career – I was in over my head. We were blessed to have so many thoughtful, caring friends and family members who chipped in and brought us meals, helped watch the kids, and whatever else we needed help with. Some acquaintances stepped up in a big way and went the extra mile to be a friend and resource – to put it plainly, they were there for me and our family.
Fast forward nine months and a friend of mine was going through a really trying, difficult time – and I completely missed the opportunity to be there for them. I didn’t even connect the dots that I might be able to help them move through their challenging time as they helped me. Sure, I had a newborn at home – but there are always things going on.
Everyone is so busy being “busy,” there is little time to notice the subtle or not-so-subtle hints of a friend in need. Life makes it so easy to get distracted. Think about this: the next time you ask someone how they are doing, pay attention to their response – you’ll most likely hear something like – “Yeah, just busy – lots going on – work and family – busy, busy, busy.”
Being too busy is frantic and creates blind spots. Are we really too busy to put in a little effort maintaining relationships and making time in our busy lives? There are always things we can do – kind words, follow-up calls or notes, making a meal, sending a meal (Uber Eats), etc.
Another caution is being aware of how “distracted” I was at that time – busy + distracted = blind spots. It’s easy to fill your empty time with endless hours of Netflix and TV series and movies, or video games. I was so deep in distracting myself to medicate from the stress in my daily life, that I missed a key moment to be a friend.
And I want to deeply apologize, dear friend, because you were there for me, unconditionally. And that meant a lot to me. Yet, I was too busy and distracted to even recognize your need.
To be a good friend, remember to first focus on being present and aware of people in need. Pay attention for clues, ask questions and dig deeper. My biggest learning lesson is that because I didn’t take the time to become aware of my friend’s issues, I never actually made a choice to take action. My inaction is my biggest miss.
Once aware, we can be intentional and evaluate if someone needs us – and be there for them, whether big or small. Everyone suffers inaction from time to time, but if we make time from being busy to be quiet, reflect and turn off the TV or social media, we just might find that small opportunity to be there for a friend in need.
The next time someone asks you “What’s new, what have you been up to lately?”, use this as an opportunity to tell them something more than how “busy” you’ve been.
Be well and God Bless.