Not on my Watch!
Pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” Ecc. 4:10b
“Life without a friend is like death without a witness.” So declares an ancient Spanish proverb. Such was the reality that the Charles Dicken’s character, Ebenezer Scrooge, had to face as he looked at his pitiful life and hardened heart. The plight of Ebenezer Scrooge is not limited, however, to a fictional story.
Some time ago I visited one of our local nursing homes. The staff told me that Ralph, sitting alone at the far end of the room, had no family. I decided to start up a conversation with Ralph. I soon learned that no one outside this nursing home knew he existed. He had been a loner all his life. “Other than the undertaker,” he said, “I will be the only one at my funeral.”
What about you? At your funeral will there be a room full of people saddened at the passing of a dear friend, or will the room be silent and empty? We may not like to think about such things, but to come to the end of ones life only to discover that no one will notice, let alone care…well, that’s tragic because as Three Dog Night used to sing, “one is the loneliest number you can ever do” in life and in death.
Speaking of songs, Simon and Garfunkel’s poignant hit, I Am A Rock can hit a nerve as well:
I’ve built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty that none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain,
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock; I am an island.
…And a rock feels no pain, And an island never cries.
The Enemy would like us to believe that strong people learn to live as an island or a rock. Yet, according to the wisdom of Solomon, such a man is to be pitied. Most of us have journeyed in this life long enough to know that friends are one of life’s greatest treasures. While there is no greater friendship than the one we have with Christ, there is no doubt that we all need a friend in this life as well. Only a fool believes otherwise.
As grandparents, we can help our grandchildren understand the consequences of not having real friends, and the blessing of knowing and walking with true friends. Someone once said, “the only way to have a friend is to be one.” That’s a good starting place. We can help them learn this by being a friend to our grandchildren—not a ‘buddy’, but a wise friend and mentor who can show them what true friendship is about.
Here are a few suggestions to help our grandchildren be a good friend and build valuable friendships throughout life:
- Engage in a conversation with your grandchildren about what it means to be a true friend. Ask them to describe what they think a true friend is like. Do they have any friends like that?
- Ask to meet their friends in a non-intimidating setting.
- Introduce them to one of your close friends. Share what makes that friendship special. Let them ask your friend questions.
- Be transparent and authentic. Let them see that good friends still have flaws, but that doesn’t keep them from being friends.
GRANDPAUSE: "Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light." - Helen Keller
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