Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Beauty of Friendship

Anyone who reads this is probably aware of the situation Fiance and I find ourselves in lately. Factory work has slowed by a huge amount, and while we truly love his job, he's being forced to submit applications and resumes again, hoping for a job that isn't sending everyone home missing eight to ten hours a week. They say the work will pick up in January for sure ... but how could we make it that far with three people to support on a little over $800 a month? We just can't. We still aren't caught up from when he was out of work in the beginning of this year, still a little behind on the lights, a little behind on the cable, and due to pay a ticket fine soon. Not to mention the car insurance that we don't have because we literally cannot afford it. It's been hard to try to catch up all this year, because even with full checks, that only brought us to a little over $1200.

Usually that would be fine for us since we aren't big spenders, but being behind means paying more than the monthly bill, just to catch up. So we'd been doing that ... we were caught up completely on the cable, and almost caught up on the lights. Then for some reason the government still can't figure out, gas here in Knoxville skyrocketed. It was actually $5.20 a gallon in some places! That was also right about the same time that things in the factory where Fiance works got REALLY SLOW. So there wasn't enough cash to go around we ended up skipping the cable to keep the lights on, putting us no closer to catching up the lights, and behind again on the cable. I could just scream, it's so frustrating. We aren't the kind of people who go out all the time and buy new stuff, you know? Neither of us have brand new name brand clothes ... or brand new clothes at all. In fact, the newest clothing item I own was a gift during the summer, and the newest before that was a gift for Christmas last year. We don't have expensive shoes, or an expensive car (other than gas because of the theft we've had lately and the air leak we can't afford to find). The most splurging we've done in the past three years is to get cell phones and shut our house phone off. And we still pay less for that bill than some other people we know. So it's frustrating to feel like the financial universe is striving to take Fiance and I in for a beatdown. I hate seeing him look so defeated. He has loved being the provider in our household, and he hates it that now I'm jumping up and down waiting for an upcoming babysitting job to start because I really need the $50 a week that I'm going to get. This "job" started as a favor for a friend ... but has turned into meaning so much more to my family's livelihood.

**But what does all that have to do with friendship?**

Today my daughter and I both found a little treasure in the midst of all the stress and busyness that our lives have become lately. She hunted for treasure and found a ton of "diamonds" during the hour we spent at the park ...

And I freaked and went on a rant in the middle of a phone conversation swallowed my pride enough to finally let someone know how bad it's been for us lately. Turns out, I picked the right person, and God must have set us up just right to be talking at the right time. She called and as we talked I tried so hard to be calm and get caught up with what's going on with her. We don't get to talk much anymore since my life isn't the only one going nuts. She's headed for a heart procedure just over a week ... which RISKS HER LIFE ... and her husband has been told that she'd better get well fast because even though the military is giving him emergency leave from Iraq to be there with her, there will be no extension on his "R&R". I'm sure she's grateful for the pressure, and that it will help her healing immensely.

So you can see that I felt she'd called to lean on me ... felt that I needed to chill and stop staring crazily at my budget so that I could calm myself and be there for her. But there's a man in this house too, and a four year old who'd just gotten home from school. So between the kid, the man, the numbers, and the very real danger that my best friend is in ... I freaked. And she was perfect.

"Let me loan you the money," she says, "and don't worry, we've got it and you need it so it's going to be fine."

"It's okay really," she says when I see a new debt attached to her blessing and tell her that I'm not sure when I can pay it back, "One day I'll need something and you'll be there for me."

And honestly? On the one hand I hope she never needs me like this because I want her life to be peaches and cream forever. I want her husband back from war with a huge bonus and a swift exit from the military so that they can move into a cushy life in whatever place they choose to live. I want her two daughters to always be healthy and happy and never see another day when they will send their father back to war. The oldest is now old enough to understand that he might not make it back. And I hate that for them.

Then again, on the other hand, I hope she needs me a lot in the next hopefully large chunk of years. It'll mean partly that I'm finally doing well and able to help someone else, but it'll also mean that I'm able to be for her in the future what she is to me right now.

"Friendship" - extract from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
And a youth said, "Speak to us of Friendship."
And he answered, saying, "Your friend is your needs answered. He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving. And he is your board and your fireside. For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace. When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the "nay" in your own mind, nor do you withhold the "aye". And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart; For without words in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared with joy that is unclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not; For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain. And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit. For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught. And let your best be for your friend. If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know the flood also. For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill? Seek him always with hours to live. For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness. And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed."