Friendship is often about sharing good times and the occasional lifting of spirits when need be. But sometimes, you need more from your friends. Perhaps you need a loan or a reality check. Maybe you are hesitant to ask for what you truly need and yet your life circumstances have put you in a corner. Sometimes it is almost too hard to ask for what you need and sometimes it is almost too hard to receive.
I remember once reflecting on the fact that my older sister’s home might be a port in a storm if I needed one after my parents died. I did not like the idea and I never actually ran it by her, but it did cross my mind that my sister might be part of my life insurance policy. I did have a close friend one time tell me that if it came to it, he was moving in with me. I don’t think either one of us wanted that possibility to become a reality, but if that is what life threw his way I was going to be his port in the storm. While on one level I wasn’t overly excited about that pending possibility, I also was touched and proud to serve for him in that capacity. Still, I hoped and hope it doesn’t come to that.
But, friends are part of the safety net we have around us. Friends usually don’t overtly address this dynamic, but when push is coming up against shove it often becomes part of the dialogue. It is not an easy issue to discuss directly especially when there is not much more of a need than an occasional ride to the airport or help in moving something. Yet those little steps of helping out your friends and being with them in meaningful ways does pave the path for other forms of reaching out for support if the going gets rough. Some days you need a shoulder to cry on, other days you need someone to play with and some days you look around you and realize that if you needed significant help there are not a lot of people you can call.
Some people can rely on their family in emergencies. Some people have a lot of friends, some have a few close ones and some don’t really have anyone they can call. Some people belong to churches, synagogues, mosques or other other places where people gather and often offer support to those in need. While we don't like to dwell of the "what if's" in our lives, it is akin to buying insurance. You don't really want to use it, but it is comforting to know it is there.
Whomever you consider the closest person to you, regardless of how close they are, you need to let them know much you value their friendship. It may be your sister, your uncle, your work buddy or your old school mate. You may not want to tell them that they are your insurance policy, but you may. Whether you tell them or not, you may want to make some payments into the relationship so if you need to withdraw some support it is more likely to be there if you need it. Be the friend to them that you would like them to be to you. Your friends may or may not put you up if things go south, but hopefully they will put up with you.