There is a very common saying in the world that goes something like “You know who your real friends are by who stands by you in the worst of times”.
While I understand where that sentiment is coming from, I have to say that I have never found it has been true for me. Atleast maybe not in the way I perceive it.
Like all of us, my family and I have seen some pretty crappy times over the course of our lives. And we have also seen some pretty euphoric times as well. Both of these ends of the spectrum are just that really.
Ends of a spectrum.
And here’s the thing. For me, the breadth and depth of that spectrum ~ the length of it ~ that middle ~ well that’s in truth where most of my life is lived.
It’s there where the every-day lies.
It’s there where the mundane and boring and middle ground is found.
It’s there in the middle where we go to school and work and participate in clubs and sports and projects and meetings and conferences.
Its there in the middle where we get up every Monday and put the week on repeat until Friday.
It’s there where we make the majority of our decisions, and there where we choose what action we will or will not take in life on a daily basis.
It’s there where my family honestly lives a good 75% of our lives.
This middle is by no means horrible or sad or negative.
But neither is it necessarily exciting, unique and joyous.
It is just … well … everyday life.
It’s the sitting on the porch drinking coffee, reading a book, playing video games, texting, walking around campus, talking with friends, biking, hiking, hanging in the school cafeteria, endless work meetings, sharing small parts of every day life.
It’s the middle.
It’s the somewhat mundane.
And I believe it’s here where we find out who our friends are.
Not in the worst of times.
My experience during the worst of times has been that I sometimes am literally surrounded by people ~ both friends and strangers ~ and people maybe wanting to be my friend.
When tragedy strikes or bad news arrives, it’s been my experience that people want to come together and help.
It’s a wonderful and overwhelming feeling.
It is most often genuine and selfless and a true testament to the greatness life has to offer.
And I have been so thankful for it.
But if I’m being honest, and I know this isn’t the part I’m supposed to say out loud, it also can provide people with a sense of being on the inside of something greater. There is a strong and wonderful pull in human nature to be a part of something. This, as with all things, can be beautiful or it can be challenging.
When bad news arrives, we can sometimes find our lives surrounded by so many people who want to help.
I’m thankful for each of them.
But in that sea of people, during the worst of times, I am very aware, and I try to make my children aware, that there in that moment is honestly not where you “find out who your friends are”.
Maybe it’s where you find out what beautiful large hearts people have. But if you are speaking of the true definition of friendship ~ where there is a different level of being valued by someone ~ maybe it’s not there you find your actual friends.
Instead you find your actual friends in the middle. In the mundane. You find them not in the highs of the best or the lows of the worst.
Your friends are the people who are consistent and present in your life. They are the people who have put in the time ~ and especially the balance ~ during that entire middle part of the spectrum.
You find them in the people who still want to be with you during that “middle” period of life.
For when tragedy strikes, I don’t turn to the person who suddenly shows up.
I turn to the people who have always been there. Slugging it out with me in life. Making me a priority even when it’s just a boring old Wednesday.
It’s these people I have built a true relationship with. It’s these people who I have built up trust and history and confidence with. It’s these people who have reached out to me, and I to them, during plain old regular days.
They have been by my side even if I’m not trendy.
They have reached out to me for no reason at all except to say “Hey. How are you on this every-day-nothing-special-day? I’m thinking of you. Just because. Wanna get together?”
It’s this balance and effort during those times ~ the middle times ~ the boring times ~ that does, has, and I know will continue to, sustain me during the worst ones.
I try hard to remember, and I try so very very hard to teach my kids, that no, maybe you don’t find out who your friends are during the worst of times.
Maybe in fact and instead, you actually find out who your real friends are during the boring, every-day mundane times.
Look around you then.
Look around you during “the middle”.
Those are your people.
I know for sure they’re mine.