"Where There are Friends, There is Wealth"
- Plautas (3rd century)
No one plans for their life to fall apart, but it happens every day. Life happens and we really have very little control over it, despite our attempts to be in control at all times. You come home one day and your spouse says it’s over and is leaving. Your doctor says you have cancer. Someone close to you suddenly passes away. These are crisis moments when you know deep inside that your life will never be the same. It feels like the floor drops out and you begin to free fall, not knowing when and how you will land. Sometimes you think you’ve hit the bottom, only to find you are still falling and have farther to go. What do you do? Who do you call?
Everyone fears this kind of life crisis. When our friends go through it, we try to be there for them, but go home and hug our family a little tighter. When I went through it, I could see it in peoples’ eyes. They felt for me, but deep in their heart was the fear that it could happen to them just as easily.
You make a call to your best friend and maybe one of your parents. But where else do you go? What do you do?
Hopefully you’ve been investing in relationships as I described in my previous post. It is critically important to take a look at the people and resources around you and spread out your safety net. Imagine yours shaped like a spider web- wound tighter close to you at the center, expanding outward, attaching to fixed things, which will help break your free fall. You can’t handle this yourself. No one can, or should.
In the first days and weeks of my crisis, I turned to my family, who live out of state, and to my best friend from college who lives nearby. He’s incredibly sharp, a PhD actually, and a fantastic thinker and processor, which I needed. But I quickly wore him out with my almost daily phone calls and visits. It was too heavy a burden to put on one person. I needed to spread it out. Here’s what I did and what I recommend to others.
In this way, you will spread out your burden which is too heavy for you, and too heavy for your best friend. Let others help carry a piece of it. You will build a wide safety net of quality people in your life that are priceless in this difficult time. It takes some gutsy vulnerability to let people into your broken space while you are hurting and let them help you. But I promise it is absolutely worth it. What do you have to lose? Your life is already a mess.
I hope you are not in that place right now. Perhaps this isn’t for you but instead you need to send this post to a friend who is going through it right now. Maybe it’s your turn to be there for your friend. Perhaps this advice will allow you to help your friend without feeling like you have to carry the entire burden. No one can. Spread out the support. As the song goes… “we all need somebody, to lee…ean on.”
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Joel is a husband, father, musician, and lover of life; especially life that is shared with the wealth of amazing friends and family he is blessed to have near.