Recently on a flight from Phoenix to Cleveland, I sat next to a 14-year-old boy who told me that he was flying to Cleveland to spend spring break with his dad. His parents had divorced; mom had remarried and moved to Phoenix. Now it would be time to enjoy a long awaited visit with Dad. He told about his mom and dad separating, how much he loved them both and they loved him. He spoke about his mom having a new baby (to add to the mix), his new home, new school and new friends. I truly felt his heart, and felt that he had made many successful adjustments! He was a happy kid!
I mentioned to him that it must have been very hard to make all those adjustments. He said, “Yes, it was!” As we were landing in snowy Cleveland, I asked him, “If you had just one piece of advice to give other kids in your situation, what would that be? He really thought awhile and said, “You need to have friends to talk to, friends who listen to you and who really like you. I found those friends at my new school; they are the best friends I have ever had.” Wow! There is wisdom, as well as fulfillment.
His story reminded me of time when we were moving from Mentor to Seven Hills. There was a children’s book titled Sad Day Glad Day that I read to my two girls many times. It was about a little girl who was moving to a new home and even in the sadness, there was gladness! Change of any kind is stressful at any age. Some stories, poems, books, writings do stand the test of time and give us wisdom. You might remember a writing that has made a difference for you. The writings that have lasted even for centuries, do hold deep meaning. Children often share wisdom, if we are really listening.
So how about you? Who are your best friends? How do they support you, and how do you support them? When change is inevitable, it is time to find your support team, and, as this young man discovered, it is critical to have best friends.
Ezekiel 18:31 reads, “Get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!” Maybe in our language this scripture is saying, “Fill your bucket, and only you can do that”! How? Perhaps it is through friendship! Proverbs 17 says, “A friend loves at all times.” Proverbs 18 reminds us that “A true friend sticks closer than one's nearest kin.” Friends are true blessings and they can help fill our buckets!
It seems to me that filling your bucket consists of a focus on spirituality and on true caring. Your first friendship needs to be friendship with yourself! When you are a friend to yourself first, you play the role of an encourager in your own life, practicing self-care. Scripture tells us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind and soul and to love our neighbor as ourselves. So loving oneself is not just a nice thing, but it is a requirement for fulfillment. Speak nicely to yourself, being kind and protective of yourself. With that kind of self-care, you have filled your bucket enough that you can be there for others. Certainly we must be a good friend to have a good friend.
I called a friend recently and thanked her for our long relationship which began over 30 years ago, when my children were in their teens. I told her I was reflecting on how much we had both been through and how we had always been there in some way for each other over the years. I am grateful.
You certainly have learned, as I have, that change is easier to get through when you have friends: friends who see the qualities that we don’t see in ourselves, who listen to us, who look past our faults, who boost our confidence, who do not judge, who uplift and who give advice sometimes. We grow through relationships of all kinds, but there’s nothing like a best friend! The love of family, friends, and even pets helps us feel cared-for and supported. It is a matter of opening the heart to allow friendship to fill and soothe us. We can fill our bucket quickly, when we are willing to rest in the awareness that we are one with each other in the presence of God. Friends have been brought together to bless one another and to give strength in times of change.
You see, filling your bucket can happen when 1.) you fill yourself with love and caring, 2.) when you become the receiver of friendship and 3.) when you are the giver to another. All three ways are really one. I’ve often said, “Most of my kindness to you is kindness to me. Do you mind?”
May you be as wise as the young man I met on the plane, and may your bucket always be full!
Blessings, My Friends,