I’m having a crisis of faith. Not just religiously speaking (goodness knows, that's happening, too) but in my overall belief in people. People are mean. They are mean and selfish and arrogant. I know people (not in the urban legend sense but real people) who - on a regular basis - have treated others with something significantly less than respect or kindness, who knowingly sacrifice the feelings/reputation of others in order to get what they want and still others who call themselves friend but only if you agree with exactly what they believe. Each one is successful, outwardly happy, materially fulfilled. There is a saying that people get what they deserve. Do these people get what they deserve? I suppose so – if they deserve the prize, promotions, a raise or sympathy when they make themselves the victim. And really, I know life isn’t fair but I’m so dismayed at the way people treat one another that I’ve begun to lose faith.
Luckily, I have friends who are quick to remind me that there is decency and goodness. I know I’ve talked a lot about how great my friends are – how funny, generous, kind, etc. And don’t get me wrong – they are all those things. But, aside from being my friends (which makes them pretty f-ing fabulous), these are some pretty cool people who have a tremendous impact on those around them. Disclaimer: this is not to say that my friends and I are not sometimes looked at as a-holes – see exhibit A – no one is immune from the occasional jackassery – but we do try not to make it a lifestyle.
Exhibit A: Amazing acts of generosity between friends
My mom friends Stretch and Pixie are very close - the bond between these two women is deep. I am not part of their inner circle and can’t really speak to what goes on between them – the nuances that make it work, how important it is or the things that annoy them about one another. They have gone beyond a shoulder, a glass of wine and a playdate – though all of those things have likely played a role in the deepening of their ties.
These are smart women, dedicated mothers and wives, friends to many. They are funny with a heavy dose of snark that I greatly appreciate. They are great fun to be around and I love that they grab any opportunity to throw back a drink or three and have a good time. There is much to admire and like about each one individually. But, to say they have held each other up during tough times would be an understatement. To describe their relationship as supportive is simply not enough. To be a friend during a crisis – health, familial, etc – to help a friend and her family weather the storm and offer shelter or solution is an amazing gift. It seems to come so naturally to them. “Of course” would be answer if they were asked – but I’m guessing they just offered and did what they felt was needed. What was right. They are more than friend to one another – they have become family. Figuratively and literally. They remind me that friends are the family we choose and that I have chosen well.
Exhibit B: Courage in the face of crisis
My friend Tinkerbell (so named because she is tiny, fast moving and just makes you smile) faced a life crisis that can only be described as devastating. I admired the many friends that rallied around her and her family – supporting for them, praying for them and offering to do whatever was needed during this trying time. Truly the faces of kindness during dark times. But what is truly admirable, what really gets to me is Tinkerbell’s amazing outlook. I’m sure she has/had dark times during which tears were shed and fists clenched towards God. But her positive outlook is nothing short of inspirational. Her continued dedication to paying it forward – with her kind words, relentless push towards giving more and doing more and simply being a better person - reminds me that we each choose how to deal and react to any given situation and that we can turn something dark and scary and negative into something shiny and positive.
Exhibit C: Grace under pressure is contagious
My hip work friend, Mary Richards, really shows – on a daily basis – what it means to be professional. Despite her own frustrations, challenges or difficulties, she makes a point to maintain a positive outlook, offering help and a shoulder to others. Every.Single.Day. Her grace and humor (and amazing ability to bite her tongue) make her highly regarded by all. I aspire to be more like this and fall short on a regular basis.
So right when I’ve lost faith, I remind myself to look around at my friends. They are good and kind and generous. They remind me that the human condition is not one of despair but one of optimism and decency. I don’t want to get too Pollyanna-ish about this because my friends appreciate my inner bitch as much as I appreciate theirs but right now, I’m so grateful for each of them for reminding me that maybe we do get what we put out there. Maybe all my amazing and wonderful friends are in my life for a reason. Maybe I’ve gotten just what I deserve. Lucky me.