It was brought to my attention not too long ago that my definition of a friend is... shall we say, not exactly the same as how other people define what a friend is. In our day of modern technology and communication the word friend is flippantly tossed around and with the younger generation I don't know that it means the same thing as it did to folks even 10 years ago. The modern definition aside, I was a little surprised that my own definition isn't how some other folks see it. To summarize, I think Gordon Lightfoot did a great job of defining a real friend in his song Rainy Day People.
It's really not all that complicated to me, a friend is someone who is there, who cares, listens, hugs, loves, encourages, defends, supports, cheers and cries with you when you need it. They also tell you you're being a bonehead if you're being one. They tell you that because they love you and don't want you to be a bonehead. The place where I part company with other folks on what a true friend is, is in the details. I don't think a genuine friend has to remember your favorite color, shoe size, kids birthdays or that kind of thing. We've all got lives to live, kids, families, and enough details going on under our own roofs, that knowing every little thing about a friend isn't important to me. Knowing that I have friends who genuinely care about me, the person, that's what matters. Knowing they'll be those Rainy Day people is far more important than if they ever knew my favorite color to begin with.
Today I was thinking about "family" and realized that's another area where my definition deviates a bit from other people as well. That old saying "blood is thicker than water" always meant (to me) that blood comes first no matter what. NO MATTER WHAT. I've come to realize over the years that for a lot of people that blood doesn't matter, and I find that unimaginable. Many years ago my own sister and I were estranged for several years over a horrible misunderstanding and we didn't hardly speak at all during that time. However, I know without question if I needed her she would have been the first one there, and the same goes for me if she would have needed me. Despite not getting along so great for a time, we come from the place where blood truly is thicker than water and even during those heated seperations when the rubber hits the road, family ties, the ties that bind, do bind you tightly together. Thankfully my sister and I are no longer estranged. It was a most unpleasant time in my life and I'm so glad it's in the past. I love her dearly, and even did when I was mad at her, as odd as that sounds.
I don't understand the mindset that says family doesn't matter. More specifically, the mindset that allows estrangement to come in and take root, and doesn't even care. I realize that these things happen but I don't understand it. When my own sister and I were in that place I was not a Christian who understood the utmost importance of reconcialiation but even then, I desired it because it was the right thing. Those who don't desire it, don't care about it and can just write people off as easily as tossing out the daily trash... I don't understand them at all. I'm sure in their own minds they've reasoned it out and it makes sense to them but it sure doesn't make sense to me.
The other day the kids were watching a family sitcom where one of the kids said "family are the people you count on to love you even when you're really really stupid". As blunt as that sounds, I completely agree with it. You see, I've been that really really stupid person and no one in my family ever wrote me off. Oh they had plenty of reason to, but they never did. I don't suppose they know how truly grateful I am for that, but it taught me a tremendous lesson in love, tolerance, forgiveness, and what family really means. I guess I'm just one of those people from a long lost generation that still believes blood is definitely thicker than water.