Make Space for Others!

We like to stream medical-themed shows these days. They are rotated into our viewing queue of intense crime dramas, laugh-out-loud comedies and “who-done-it?” mystery-filled television series. The setting of our favorite “med shows” is usually the hospital emergency room. This is where the critically injured or ill patients are transported for triage. Some of these individuals are brought in for treatment without family or friends to accompany them.

My Friend, Joel Newton!
20th Anniversary, Woodland, Peoria!

“Is there anyone we can call for you to let them know you are here?” is a common question asked by hospital personnel. The other night, we were watching as doctors tried to treat a middle-aged professional who had a critical, life-threatening heart condition. He was demanding and impatient thinking he would be quickly diagnosed, treated, and released. You could expect this guy to describe himself as a “compulsive workaholic” and proud of it!

A turning point in this episode came as this man had to admit, in a moment of tender reflection, “I don’t make space for anyone!” It was sad to hear him admit that he had no family or friends to come alongside him in life’s crisis moments! And this was all because he didn’t make space for others! I hope you are not in a similar situation, but I fear that many, to their detriment, choose to be such loners.

How do we establish a network of friends and healthy relationships? It’s not as easy as waking up one morning and deciding, “I’m going to find a couple of best friends today!” The blessing of friendship is dynamic and emerges over time in ways that often surprise us. You take bus trips to a church event and sit with an individual. Weeks later, this person becomes your best friend. You show up at a peer’s office to chat about a personal challenge. During the conversation, you find affinity and that you have so much in common. A lasting friendship evolves!

As with any meaningful relationship, friendship must be nurtured. It is never one-sided. Friends put mutual effort into maintaining their in-person relations where communication is an indispensable ingredient. We can also give thanks for smart phones with capabilities to text, email, and share videos. Of course, many of us prefer real-time phone calls with face-to-face enhancements that make keeping up with each other easy and enjoyable. And a few of us, “older folks,” still appreciate those old-fashioned written communications, too. Mailed sympathy, birthday, or thank-you cards have a longer shelf life! These hand-written cards can be prominently displayed on a counter or table where they can be re-read days later.

“To have a friend, be a friend!” I believe that is true! Persons who are friendly and naturally move toward other people seem to have an abundance of friends. They know that friendship is a delicate matter and desire to make intentional space in their lives for it. “Friend Space” grows in an environment that is sociable and engaging, where caring people keep things uncomplicated, model contentment, are happy and good-natured and respond to each other by listening and building trust. Here's a resource you may want to check out… Making Friends

The wisdom of Scripture offers this sobering reminder… “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, NLT). I can think of several who are “alone… in real trouble,” and are in serious need for genuine friendship. This is not a good space to be in whether the context is relational, emotional, or spiritual.

Is it possible that as you and I “make space for others,” we are surprised to discover that there are already a good number of potential friends in our sphere of relations? It would be good for all of us to build some relational bridges to these individuals. None can predict the next time when we’ll need their encouragement and support. Experience tells me that there is a blessing awaiting both the giver as well as receiver of friendship! What are you going to do to make some space available in your life for a genuine friend?

Please check out this previous blog on friendship… A "Millionaire" with Friends

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.



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