Friday, February 28, 2014

Lessons From the Edge

True friends don't come with strings.

Have you ever had someone help you with something, and felt later as if you "owed" them back for the favor? As if the thing they did for you came with stings attached?
Sometimes that happens. A person does you a favor - but they don't forget about it. And when their own need arises, they're quick to remind you of "that time" when they helped you.

Don't get me wrong! I'm all for mutual support. I'm a big believer in the many-hands-make-light-work concept. But I saw an example this week of how that mutual benefit was impossible. And the picture of friendship it painted was inspiring.

P has been having trouble with her computer and has a friend (J) who's been helping her get everything fixed. P has said to me more than once, "I feel like I am so indebted to J. He has spent so much time helping me with this computer." And I've tried to assure her that he helps her because he's a good friend. He likes to do things for her.
Then, two days ago I was in P's apartment and had the privilege of meeting L, J's wife. L was standing at the ironing board pressing some of P's things. P told me, "She came over to check on me, and just started ironing my things." L simply smiled.
I reminded P that friends take care of us, and she has good friends. P was quick to agree.
And I was quick to be delighted. Here was this couple who had no real "obligation" to P. (They aren't related to her. They're simply her daughter's friends.) And there is clearly nothing P can do to benefit either one of them. She has enough trouble walking down to the dining room without wearing herself out. But that doesn't matter to J and L. They aren't looking for what she can do for them. They just care. They want to help P. And they aren't looking for anything in return.

Just then, L asked, "Is there anything else that needs to be ironed?" When she realized there wasn't, she said good-bye and quietly excused herself. And as I watched her go it occurred to me:
True friends don't come with strings.

Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this post are my own, and may not necessarily reflect those of Vista Springs Living Centers.

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