Monday, December 7, 2015

Too Many Friends?

Several years ago, I had a friend we'll call Angela. We met when our boys were really small and we would occasionally socialize, but I really only knew her through school activities. We weren't great friends, but we were more than acquaintances, too. One day, she made a comment I will never forget.

"I have too many friends," she said with a laugh. "I'm not out to make any new ones. I've got enough!"

I laughed along with her, more out of shock than anything else, and also wondering if it was just her sometimes-brash sense of humor, or if she really meant it. It wasn't long after she made that comment that our friendship seemed to die a natural death, and I wondered if I had somehow found myself in her pile of "too many friends."

I thought about her today as I volunteered in a community event that provides Christmas toys for needy children. I had never volunteered in anything outside of school and church activities, so I was looking forward to meeting some new faces and getting to know some friendly ladies in my community. For me, it was a way of branching out this Advent to do something for others that I had never done before, to get outside of myself and my own little world with its problems, and I found myself looking forward to the event. I checked in, received a name tag and looked around the room with a smile, ready to get to know some future friends, perhaps. It would be fun to get to know each other while we worked sorting toys and other presents. I said hello to some of the ladies, who were pleasant enough, but not overly warm and friendly. I shrugged it off, figuring maybe it was too early in the morning, and the ladies wanted to get down to the business at hand, so I got to work doing what the leader instructed me to do. I found myself sitting on the floor a little while later, folding extra gift tissue and hoping for a little conversation. "Hi," I said with a smile to the lady working next to me. "I'm Nancy."

She looked a little perplexed. She paused and did not answer right away.  "I'm Susie," she said warily. I got the feeling I took her by surprise.

"Nice to meet you," I said, still smiling.

I never got a response.

Well, I thought to myself, that's the end of that, I guess.

I felt bad for a split second, then shrugged it off and continued with my work. I made some comments to the other ladies about the nice toys that were there, but they weren't overly friendly either. I started thinking that maybe people were shy or having a bad morning, only to hear Susie later laughing and talking amiably with another lady working with us. Apparently they knew each other from before. As I tended to my duties, I couldn't help but think that perhaps, like Angela, this woman just had "too many friends." To me that does not seem possible. How could anyone have too many friends? The more, the merrier I say!

I'll never forget when I was about 19 or 20, a good friend of mine and I were making plans for a Saturday night outing. She happened to mention that some friends from her school wanted to come along as well, and figured it might be a problem, so she said she'd tell them that she would  see them another time.

"Why would you do that?" I wanted to know. "Ask them to come too!"

She seemed a little confused and unsure about mixing two groups of friends, and then said with a little laugh, "You know, Nancy, you are the only person I know who mixes so well with everyone."

"Well, why not?" I said. "It's more fun that way."

In my mind, come one, come all. I love meeting new people. If a friend wants to bring a friend I don't know to a gathering, I'm all for it. I will make that person feel as comfortable as I can.  It always boggles my mind how some people don't like or are afraid to socialize with new people or people they don't know. To me, it's a friend you haven't met yet! And I don't bite!

But I suppose there are those who are who are leary of new faces, who are uncomfortable around someone new.

Well, I guess that's okay, too. God made us all different.

But that's not going to stop me from holding out my hand for a shake and saying, "Hi! I'm Nancy! What's your name?"

You can never have too many friends!


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