As a single woman I feel as though I have a lot of "friends". Some of course closer than others. A couple of weeks ago I sent out an email to a bunch of my closest friends and co-workers asking for prayer for my mom. I mentioned that she was really sick, and I was really worried. This seems a normal thing to do. When trouble hits, I always want prayer to be a first reaction.
A couple of people who I have known for only a short amount of time contacted me, prayed with me, and followed up about my mother's condition. Those who saw me in tears gathered and briefly prayed with me while I was fasting and praying for my mother before her doctor's visit. Those were amazing times where I felt the hand of God speaking through my friends.
But, I was actually shock and disappointed at the reactions I did not receive from this email. There were many others who did not reply at all. No questions about what was wrong with her, no follow up as to how she is, and no "Tina are you ok?" I cannot lie, that hurt. Some who I saw as my close friends left me in this hour of need. Still worse were the couple of people who glossed over it, and in the same reply turned and asked me for something they needed from me.
I use this example as an instance in my life of not feeling loved and supported by some of my friends, but... I am more often on the other side of this circumstance. I admit... I am often a bad friend.
I think being single and the fact that my life decisions and daily activities only center around me makes me so selfish. (note: I not saying that all singles are selfish or that it is not possible to be married and selfish... just see this as a pattern in my life.) I know that with me it is so often out of sight out of mind. This is the sin I struggle the most with: being self-centered. I see emails come through from friends and prayer requests. I try to type out an email prayer or short response, but I rarely follow up with them later. Even from small group to small group, I forget the requests of the other members. It is true that caring is in the details. Good friends remember stuff about each other and look out for one another. I have some friends that I can tell you what they don't like on their sandwhich, but when it comes to their parent's name, I draw a blank.
How can I improve? Here are some steps I would like to take to be a better friend in future.
1. When I get a prayer request, set an outlook reminder to ask how the situation is in a few days or afterwards (if it is something like surgery)
2. Ask more questions... even take notes if I have to to better remember the details
3. Pray more for my friends... journal prayers and write down their names
4. Be more vocal of my expectations from communication, if I want people to follow up or pray with me, or check on me... put that in there instead of assuming people will do it
Those are just some first steps... I know the change really must happen in my heart and habits, in that order. As Jesus says,
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
I do not write this for any friends who I emailed that did not respond to feel guilty, but to show how that hurt opened my eyes and that I would like to ask forgiveness for my hurting you in the same way in the past. I do not lay down my life for you, instead I so often let it get in the way.