Too big to pass
“Trouble is a sieve through which we sift our acquaintances. Those too big to pass through are our friends.” — Arlene Francis
There are all kinds of reasons why trouble tends to isolate us from others. Many long to reach out to people in difficulty, but find it emotionally taxing to be present during the trials of others. We may be too sensitive, haunted by sadness after spending time with those who are less fortunate. Or maybe we have more than enough problems of our own, and thus feel overwhelmed in the face of suffering or crisis in others’ lives.
Often, too, the experience of trouble can change us, making us less reliable, less agreeable or harder to tolerate, thus driving away former or potential friends. I speak from experience here. I feel as if the past three years have left me ill-equipped to have much to give to anyone, even in my immediate family. A significant percentage of the time, I feel exhausted, irritable and negative. Other times I long to retreat to a quiet room and just be by myself with a book or some music. While this solitude is essential and beneficial in reasonable doses, it’s not a recipe for making or keeping friends.
Fortunately, I am blessed to know many who understand these facets of struggle. Most of you who have been here with me, through all of the ups and downs of the past three (or thirty!) years, have been through various seasons of loss yourselves. You know, seemingly by instinct, what to do; how to remain loyal and supportive even when doing most of the “give” in the give-and-take that constitutes friendship.
To all of you, my heartfelt thanks. Whether your bouquets have been composed of literal flowers (such as pictured above) or of loving thoughts, prayers, cards and other tokens of support and affection, please know that your presence and kindness make a crucial difference in helping me get through each day, and week, and month.
If you are facing any sort of trouble right now, I wish for you some golden people who are too full of love to pass through that sieve. “Big” is not a description most of us would choose for ourselves, but in the sense that Francis intends in the quote for today, I hope we all experience the joy of knowing– and being– people who are too big to pass through the net of circumstance that separates true friends from acquaintances.
This post was originally published four years ago today, because seven years ago, there was no February 29. As an aside– the four years that came after I wrote these words in 2016 proved beyond my worst imagination how true the theme of this post really is, and how few remain after the sifting of sorrow upon sorrow.
The original post and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below.