Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

August 9, 2009


Now is a good time to let our friends know we care


      Friends are as important as breathing. Healthy living is impossible without good friends. So it behooves us to take the time to deepen friendships that make a difference in our lives.

          Two brothers lived nearby us in a dilapidated old house. I heard they had no friends and did not want any. When a neighbor told me they were both very sick, I went to see them on a cold winter day.

          One of the men answered my knock on the door. He did not seem happy to see me. I said, “I understand you and your brother have been sick. I brought you some vegetable soup and cornbread. My wife prepared it for you.”

          Instead of a rebuff, he softened and replied, “Come on in; my brother is in the kitchen.” To my amazement, debris covered the hallway. The path through trash was hardly a foot wide. Empty cans, bottles, boxes, and paper seemed a foot deep all the way into the kitchen.

          After placing the soup and cornbread on the dirty kitchen table I asked how they were feeling. “We are better,” one said, “just a bad cold or maybe the flu.” Beyond that they had very little to say. I sensed there were as uncomfortable as I was. So I excused myself, inviting them to call me if I could help in any other way.

          I never heard from them again. Apparently, long before I met them, they had decided they did not need other people in their lives.

          Most of us realize we need people, especially a few with whom we can become good friends. There is a great truth in the words of a popular song, “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.” Most of us gladly affirm that thought. I know I do. I could have written that song.  

          I treasure a little plaque my wife gave me for an anniversary years ago. It did not cost much, but to me it is priceless. On it are two rabbits embracing. Beside them are the words, “We Need Each Other.” It meant so much for my wife to say with her simple gift, “I need you.”

          Sometimes, when we are hurt by a friend or family member, we become angry. That anger can lead to depression. Then, nursing our hurt feelings, we may retreat into a shell of indifference, vowing that we do not need other people.

In so doing, we hurt ourselves more than others, allowing apathy to suppress our love. This goes against the grain of our nature, for we were made for love. When we refuse to love, we are resisting the very purpose for which we were created. To love is to live.

          Loving others is impossible, of course, unless we are willing to forgive, and not once, but repeatedly. The fact that there are no perfect people makes forgiveness an absolute necessity in healthy living. Our family members, and our friends, will disappoint us, but we can forgive, and friendships can be restored.

          During this journey called life I have had many wonderful friends. As I reflect on this, two strong feelings emerge. One, I feel such deep gratitude that most of my friends have not given up on me. Two, I feel much anguish of soul for having failed to express to my friends what they have meant to me.

          One of my best friends was my roommate at Auburn. He was the best man at my wedding. We stayed in touch for a few years after college but eventually lost contact with each other. Then one day I got word that he had died following a pulmonary embolism. For some time I grieved over my failure to keep our friendship alive.

Perhaps in heaven we will have the opportunity to tell some of our friends what we neglected to tell them down here. In the meantime we shall be wise to find the time to let our friends know how much they mean to us. The opportunity to do so can vanish in the twinkling of an eye. + + +