Just Walk Beside Me and Be My Friend

Just Walk Beside Me and Be My Friend

Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

     Albert Camus

Several weeks ago we spent a day with a friend, accompanying him to a place that he had wanted to visit all his life, but never had the opportunity. The whole day. Just being together. Allowing him to set the agenda to do and see all the things on his long-held list.

That day was important to him, and because it was important to him, it was important to us. You see, for most of his life he’s been analyzed by others. Counselors and therapists have pushed and prodded him, trying to fix his supposed problems, causing him to go internal with his challenges – prompting him to put up more and more walls between him and everyone else in his life.

Our friend now works in an environment in which people come to him with their challenges, problems and struggles. He is a sensitive, caring listener. Perhaps the challenges of his youth have given him compassion and empathy beyond what most people have. But as one who is expected to handle and guide others through their dilemmas, he doesn’t feel as if he has an available outlet for his.

On both ends of the spectrum – as a person who his own needs to share and as one with whom others regularly share – he doesn’t feel as if he has a safe, non-judged place to share himself. He feels trapped and uncertain of where to turn. He is lonely.

But then we spent that day together.

As that day was coming to a close he wanted to get a photo of the three of us together. As the photo was being taken, he reached out and put his arms around both of us, as we stood on either side of him. And that was wonderfully significant. A breakthrough, actually. A true moment of vulnerability. It was as if he was saying,

I really trust you guys.

How did that trust come about? It came about because the more time we spent together that day, the more we became trusted. The more we showed that we wanted to be his friend, that we truly cared about him, the more he began to see – and to truly know – that we only want to be his friends.

We didn’t spend that day trying to analyze him. We didn’t spend the day expecting him to analyze us. We simply spent that day talking and listening and laughing and exploring – having an adventure – as friends do. It was as if we were saying to each other,

We will walk with you today. Simply walk with you, by your side, to show you that you are not alone – and that we aren’t either.

Isn’t that all that most of us want, anyway? Caring friends, beside us, as we strive to make our way.

 

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