You are who your friends are, or show me your friends and I’ll show you, you. I was asked the other day if I had a lot of friends. I answered; “No.” For me, this is not a bad answer but it is a truthful one. I’ve never had a lot of friends, lots of acquaintances, people I know and say; “Hi,” to but not people I would consider friends. If you were to look at my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn profile, you would think I have thousands of people with whom I have a deep connection to. This is false. Online “friends” are fine but most of them are not close confidants with whom you share life.
I think the words friends is overused. Facebook didn’t start the overusing but I think it helped it reach its pinnacle. Each day I try to wish everyone on Facebook, who has a birthday that particular day, a “Happy Birthday!” Many days I recognize at least most of the names but other days I am at a complete loss as to whom I am writing a birthday wish.
The few friends I do have are wise people, not only smart but wise. They are spiritual mentors and people I’ve shared my journey with, the good times and what I’d label bad. They are folks who encourage me when I need it and call me on my BS, inflated ego, and the illusion of goodness I’d like to live in. They are also positive people. Not pollyannaish, pie in the sky, everything’s coming up roses people but truly positive. They help me believe when I am doubting, hold me when I am scared, help me get my bearings when I’m lost, and never give up on me. These are those who I trust with my life and when that’s the criteria, you have to and should be; picky.
Last night I had to confront someone on a bad decision they had made. It wasn’t easy. I’m not one for confrontation. I would rather build someone up, encourage them, congratulate them on their progress than look another person in the eye and tell them they’ve made a bad decision. However, this is what friends, mentors, leaders need to do and refusal would mean to abdicate our responsibility.
This gentleman is in one of my incarcerated father groups and he chose to get in a fight with another man in his pod after the two had unkind words with each other. As a result he has to serve thirty days in the maximum facility portion of the jail. I had heard about the scuffle before he came to class so after he came in I found a moment to ask him about it. This big man, six inches taller and quite a bit wider than me, quickly looked down at his feet and admitted what he had done. “You’ve got to make good choices!” I told him. “Good decision lead you to better places, bad ones bring you here, to stay.” He shook his head and told me he was sorry and that I was right. We didn’t have time to talk about it longer but set up a time to connect next week.
Confrontation, butting heads with someone, going toe to toe, eye to eye isn’t easy but at times is necessary. However, this can’t be the end of the conversation. When we sit down and speak about the matter I will encourage, remind him of his progress, how far he’s come and that he’s smart enough and good enough to learn from a poor decision and keep moving forward.