Tag Archives: friendship

Overcoming Faults

I write a lot about this desire we all have inside of us to be great, and that answering that call to greatness means not settling for anything less.  I think this is a message people my age really need to hear, and that more of us should strive to answer this call to greatness.

But what about when we fail?  What about those times when we don’t even have the will to try to be great anymore?  What about those times when we prefer the comfort of our mediocrity, or worse, we prefer the allure of things we know will ultimately be bad for us?

It is easy to make the blanket statement that we need to get back up after those times we fall; that no matter how far we have fallen or no matter how long it has been, we are still called to be great.  But what does that really mean for someone in his or her weakest, most vulnerable, most hopeless moment?  How do you find the courage to be great after a period of days, weeks, months, or even years of being nothing short of pitiful?

I think you start by admitting your shortcomings.  It is nothing short of false to think that those who are called great have no faults or weaknesses of their own.  The only difference between a great person and a small person is that a great person acknowledges his or her weaknesses, thereby making them a source of strength.

No soldier would approach a battle by himself, hidden in the darkness.  Yet this is exactly how we face our greatest struggles.  When we hide the things we struggle with, when we try to sweep them under the rug and act like they are not there, we end up becoming enslaved to them.  We are not only concerned with beating them; we are also concerned that no one else sees the fight. Like the soldier in the battle, we need to face our enemies in the light of day, and with the help of our fellow soldiers, our friends.

It is these friends we surround ourselves with that will give us the desire to keep fighting when we get tired, or when we start to think that greatness is too high a goal.  The good friend will remind us that there is no such thing as a mediocre soldier; the mediocre soldier has two choices: be killed or become great.

So when you fall or you get tired, reach out to those people who care most about you and ask for help.  Think no one cares about you?  Think again.  If you really can’t think of anyone, use the contact form and send me a message, because I care about you.  Really, I do.  We all need help.  No one becomes great on his own.

4 Things Cheerleading Taught Me

Today I am making signs for an upcoming flag football game my University is playing in against a rival Catholic University in April.  It’s making me all nostalgic and whatnot for my days as a cheerleader in high school…

Say what you will about cheerleaders, but I learned a lot from my days on the Pep Squad.  I think the lessons I took away from cheer are applicable to all sorts of different situations in life, especially what it means to be a real friend.

1.)  Everybody needs a cheerleader

It’s tough to be the one cheering for a losing team, but this is the job of a cheerleader.  Whether you are cheering for the champion team or the team embarking on game nine of a losing streak, you don’t have the option of despairing.  A cheerleader needs to be there for the team even when it seems like all hope is lost.

2.)  Learn the Rules of the Game

There is nothing more embarrassing than starting an offense cheer when your team is on defense.  You can’t cheer someone on in a game that you don’t understand, just like you can’t be there for someone if you don’t take the time to understand his or her situation.

3.)  Respect the Players

I’ll be honest.  When you are a cheerleader, a lot of the people you have to cheer for may not be the greatest or nicest people in the world.  But this doesn’t mean you have the right to stop cheering them on, or worse, to hope they lose the game.  Even if you don’t like the people you are stuck cheering for, it is your responsibility to do your utmost to help them achieve their best.

4.)  “Just Have Fun!”

My mom used to say this to my sister and me every year in high school during the stressful week that is cheerleading tryouts.  She said it so we wouldn’t stress out too much and so we would remember it was just one week in the grand scheme of a lifetime, but I think it got to the heart of what cheerleading is supposed to be.  It’s about having fun and keeping a positive attitude that is contagious.

Even if you’ve never held a pair of pom-poms, I think we are all supposed to be cheerleaders in one way or another.

What I have learned from my friends…

To tell the truth, I haven’t always been the best at being a friend.  I even used to think that I could get by without really having close friends at all.  I enjoy time to myself, and close relationships are kind of scary, so it was easy to tell myself I could do without close friendships.  But experience (and Philosophy class) has taught me otherwise.  We need friends in our lives.  Most people seem to know that this is true, but fewer people really understand the reason why.

Friends are there to help us become better people.  They do this by helping us think clearly.  The true friend knows who we are; he understands the way we think, and so he is able to help us come to conclusions we could not see on our own.

In a way, this is contrary to what a lot of people my age seem to think about friends.  We think friends are there to “watch our back” or to save us from our boredom.  In reality, a lot of our “friendships” do the exact opposite of helping us think clearly.

I have had my share of both good and bad friendships, so I thought I would draw from my own experience and put together a list of some of the qualities I have found to be most necessary in a true friend (and most lacking in a bad friend).

1.)  The true friend talks to you about things that matter

Talking about the weather is nice, and I love a good conversation about last night’s episode of Modern Family, but these aren’t the conversations I most look forward to having with my friends.  My closest friends are the people I can talk to seriously about what my goals for the future are, what I am struggling with, or go to for advice on any number of topics.  We may joke around and talk about trivial things at times as well, but a real friend tends to elevate the conversation.

2.)  A friend has no problem calling you out

I am the biggest baby when it comes to any type of criticism.  My feelings get hurt and I may become upset and defensive with the person giving the feedback, but this doesn’t stop my closest friends from calling it like they see it.  Despite how I may initially react, I am so thankful for this.  The real friend isn’t worried about hurting your ego a little bit if it means you seeing the truth.

3.)  Friends don’t ask or expect you to lie for their sake

Sometimes it takes losing a relationship in order to be a real friend.  The true friend won’t agree to lie in order to cover for someone else, even if asked.  Lying is damaging to us on so many levels.  The truth always comes out eventually, and a lot of hurt can usually be avoided if it comes out sooner rather than later.

4.)  Finally, the true friend is striving to be a good person himself

You can’t expect someone to be a good friend if they are not a good person.  The true friend will help you become a better person, so it follows that someone who is not a good person already can’t help you to become one yourself.  Friendships involve a give and take.  We both learn from our friends as well as teach them.  Make sure you are learning from teachers who know what they are talking about.

Getting Rid of a Bad Friend:

So what do you do if you find yourself in a friendship that is not good for you?  You run.

Aristotle says that getting rid of a bad friend is like getting rid of a bad habit.  And anyone who has tried knows that getting rid of a bad habit is extremely difficult.  In a similar way, getting rid of a friendship, especially one that has been a part of us for so long, can feel as excruciating as cutting off an arm that has been infected with gangrene.   But you really have no other option.  If you don’t amputate, the infection will spread throughout the whole body and eventually will cost you your life.

Finding a Good Friend:

Also as with habits, it is not enough to simply try and get rid of the bad friendship.  You have to replace it with a good friendship.  Otherwise, you will fall back into the old one.  We have to be picky about choosing our friends.  We can’t be so naive as to think the people we spend our time with have no effect on us.  So in choosing your friends, look for people who have the characteristics described above.  Look for people who challenge you to be a better person.

What is the purpose of relationships?

“I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn.  And we are led to those who help us most to grow if we let them, and we help them in return.”

-For Good (from the Broadway Musical, Wicked)

I was listening to this song today, and it got me thinking.  In truth, this is something that I wasn’t sure if I agreed with at first.  Because sometimes I feel like there have been people in my life that I would have been okay not knowing.  Like the kids who made fun of me when I was little for being short or for stuttering.  People like that, I thought, I probably would’ve been okay if I didn’t know them.

But then I started to think about it more from a spiritual side.  Mother Teresa always said that we are called to be the face of Jesus to others.  That, by our actions, people should come to know Jesus even if we never tell them His name—because we are supposed to bring His love to everyone.

If that is true (and I believe it is), then I think the above quote from Wicked has to be true.  Because even if someone makes a mistake and doesn’t show me love, I am still called to show them love regardless.  And learning to love in all circumstances is something I could always use practice in.

So I stopped thinking about the quote from the standpoint of people coming into my life and what they’ve done for me; and I started thinking of all the people I have known in my lifetime, and how God had me in their life for a reason.  It would be really easy to get all bogged down by some “mysterious” reason why God would have me in someone’s life.  You could spend your life searching for the answer to that question and miss it because it’s so simple.

The reason why we are brought into other peoples’ lives is so that we can love them.  All other reasons are secondary, and all other reasons naturally come out of love.

Love:  (v.) wanting and working for the good of another

Jealousy Doesn't Look Good on You…

I have wanted to write a post about jealousy for some time now.  But as I’ve discovered, it’s sort of a tricky topic to talk about.  People could get the wrong idea and either think that I’m jealous of someone, or that I’m arrogant enough to assume that other people are jealous of me.

Still though, I think it’s an important enough issue to bring up despite the risks that come with it.  Because we’ve all been on both sides of the spectrum at one time or another I’m sure.  We’ve been the person who is jealous, or the one others are jealous of.  I don’t need to remind anyone that neither of these are fun roles to play.  You’re either bitter and dissatisfied with your life, or punished for being happy.  Is there any middle ground?

The green-eyed monster is not our friend.  If we try, we are able find joy in other people.  Be happy for your friends’ successes.  And be happy for the moment you are at in life too.  God has you in that moment for a reason.  If nothing else, be joyful for that!  The God of the universe wants you in this very moment in time… right now.  But you can’t enjoy it if you’re too busy wishing you were living someone else’s moment (or trying to take that moment away from them).

Besides, we really have no reason to be jealous of other people anyway, because God has a unique plan just for us.  As Jeremiah 29:11 (one of my favorite verses!) says:

For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope.

If we learn to celebrate other people’s triumphs, we will be happier.  Our family will be happier; our friends will be happier.  Our children will be a step ahead of their peers if they learn this from us early on.

Remember, we are ALL supposed to be cheerleaders—-cheering each other on and encouraging each other through our words and actions.