Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Just one Friend

Some friends play at friendship but a true friend sticks closer than one's nearest kin.
(Proverbs 18:24 NRSV)

Didn’t summer just start last week or the week before?  Yet, there they are -- Ads in the paper for back-to-school supplies. My Facebook feed is full of friends caught up in back-to-school preparations. Friends who are teachers are posting pics as they fit in one more vacation before the new school year.

As a special needs parent, back-to-school comes with an oddly mixed sensation of anxiety and hope. I am always hopeful for a new year and new possibilities.  It’s the “what if” gremlins that make me anxious. With a little experience I finally figured out the first day of school routine.  I pray my son out the door with a positive, “God’s got you, so you’ve got this!” and keep the anxiety part to myself as I sit by the phone and wait for the call from the school office.  Autism and the first day of school -- The call was inevitable at my house. I learned just to go with it.

My biggest prayer for my son each year was to make one friend. Just one. One good friend will see you through anything. Barnabas traveled with Paul on long and dangerous journeys to share the gospel.  Moses had Aaron on his journey to and from Egypt. David had Jonathan through battles and political intrigue. Of course, my dreams were more sedate. I simply prayed for a person to sit with my son in the cafeteria, maybe hangout to build Lego castles, and help save the world in the latest video saga.

In hindsight, that prayer was answered each year. Some of those kids my son connected with in elementary school are still friends after high school. Some are neuro-typical.  Others are not. In the long run those differences matter little between real friends. The truth is that sometimes friendships bloom out of the most unlikely connections if well-nurtured, though I did give Craig one piece of advice that really helped.  Look for the kid who is by himself at lunch, and go join him.  I bet he would like to have just one friend too.

PRAY:  Holy God, as we prepare for the start of a new school year, watch over those for whom friendships are hard and guide them to caring hearts with kindred spirits. Amen.
Photo: "Calahan Colorado High School Cafeteria" by David Shankbone

5 comments:

  1. Oh, Lorna...yes, yes...a thousand times... When people ask Evie if she is excited for the first day of school she says, "I won't know anyone yet." I'm praying for my child and for all my other lovely kids I know with disabilities to make a good friend this year...right away...for God to comfort them and to feel his peace and presence.

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    1. Tammie I have a follow up blog scheduled for Friday. It includes the idea below as well as 10 practical tips for building friendships. Please check back. I'd love to know your thoughts.

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  2. Everyone wants and needs relationships. We are hard wired for it. One of the biggest hurts I felt as a parent was wanting my child to feel accepted and connected to others. In the support groups I lead it is a common issue that resurfaces again and again. I have been mulling around an idea that has not really taken shape yet. Wouldn't it be great if churches could host a "Just One Friend" night. Invite the special needs community. Set up games and activities. Parents stay and help foster connections. The general premise is that folks are coming to have fun and meet new people that they may want to connect with after game night is over. That'a kind of a bare bones snap shot, but I think it could be a way to offer important relief from isolation, which is a big part of healing on the journey with special needs.

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    1. LOVE that idea of "Just One Friend Night" at churches, Lorna!

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    2. Thanks! I really think it could work well.

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