Yesterday afternoon I sat down in my nice easy chair with the cats on my lap and fell asleep for about 45 minutes. I awoke to the sound of a lawn mower, and I knew it was my friend and former neighbor over here cutting my grass. It was a welcome sound, because the grass in the back was as high as my knee (or should I say the weeds IN the grass?).
But more than that, it was a happy sound because I love my friend. He did almost all the packing when I moved, came over in the middle of the night to fix a faucet that thought it was Niagara Falls, and left straight from work the day he found out I was in the hospital so he could visit me there. He brought me flowers on Mother’s Day in 2010, helped me hang pictures and cleaned out the fireplace in my house here. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We laugh, he’s listened to me cry, and he has the greatest laugh. He’d protect me from anything or anyone, stand up for me if needed, and always has a smile on his face and a good word about life.
Pets are like people friends. They accept us for who we are, snuggle up against us to keep out the cold, and, if they’re dogs, will protect us from anyone who tries to harm us. My cats wouldn’t know how to protect me from anything…they can barely catch a slow-crawling bug as it makes its way across my hardwood floors. They try, but they’re just not very good hunters. Pets only complain if they’re hungry or in pain. They’re different from friends that way, because friends allow us to complain about anything or anyone; and, if they’re very good friends, they listen and don’t judge us.
Some people say they have a closer relationship with their friends than than with their family members. It’s understandable, don’t you think?
After all, our families suffer from the e-word syndrome — EXPECTATIONS. This is not to say that friends don’t also have expectations, because they do. However, family expectations cover years and years of everything from manners to the madcap adventures of teens and those other members who never quite got out of adolescence. Some parents and siblings say the want “the best” for us. What that really means is that they want us to be like they are — to make the same types of decisions, marry the right type of person and live our lives the way they think we should.
The difference between friends and family is often the fact that our friends really encourage us to push on toward our dreams, to give it all we have, and to be fully who we are. We rest comfortably in the fact that if we fall down, they’ll not only be there to pick us up, but they’ll also be there at three in the morning if we have a pressing need to vent about everything from boyfriends to money, from being ill to feeling crazy, or from laughing out loud to sobbing a bucket full of tears.
Lots of families are there for their relatives too. They loan or give us money, remember our birthdays and send us flowers when we’re in the hospital. My mom used to always cook my favorite meals when I would return home for a visit, and my room always had a goodie basket with things like black licorice and red vines, pretzels and apples. She always knew when something was wrong, too. I’d swear I wasn’t going to tell her what was wrong before I made the call; however, she’d ask me how I was and then tell me that I didn’t sound “fine.” So, I always told her. I believe that no matter what we think our parents did or didn’t do, they did the best they could. I know my family loves me, and I love them, even though we don’t always agree. I think I’ve finally learned to accept them exactly the way they are, too, and that feels REALLY good.
We like our friends because they let us know what great people we are. And when they criticize us, it somehow doesn’t sting as much as it does when a family member does it. But nothing felt as good to me as a hug from my mom, dad, sisters or brothers.
This is a rambling blog tonight. I know it may seem as if it almost has no “point.” But it does.
The point is that you can drive the most expensive Jaguar, live in a fabulous restored Victorian home and have $100,000 in your bank account, but if you don’t have people in your life who love you, you have nothing. You’re doubly blessed if you have a faithful Fido or comfy cat.
At the same time, you can have no money for a car of any kind, live in a neighborhood where drive-by shootings occur occasionally and live from disability check to disability check, but you have people in your family and group of friends who tell you every day they love you — and somehow life seems worthwhile after all.
We can’t change our brothers, sisters, moms or dads. We usually don’t try to change our friends. Wouldn’t it be great if we could give that same acceptance to our families and thank God every day that we even have a family?
Acceptance of others exactly the way they are brings a multitude of blessings, which include less stress, more smiles and more of a sense of purpose.
My wish for you tonight is that you cultivate acceptance of others, grin from ear to ear and understand that God loves you more than you’ll ever know.