Did you know that if you isolate yourself from other people, you are two to three times more likely to die an early death? You are more likely to contract terminal cancer if you are isolated from others. If you are divorced, separated, or widowed, you have five to ten times greater chance of being hospitalized for a mental disorder than if you are married. If you're discouraged with your marriage, focus on the positive — it's keeping you out of the mental hospital.
Have you ever noticed that when you hear about someone doing something awful — some great tragedy — there is one word that usually surfaces — "loner" — someone living life by themselves, living life alone? Living alone can make you crazy. You will go crazy and won't even realize it. Married people can't go crazy without realizing it, because their mate will tell them, "You're crazy!"
There are several good ways to stay sane. You can go see a shrink and lay on the sofa and talk about your mother; you can get married (by the way, both are very expensive); or you can have friends. God said it isn't good to be alone. We need other people. Even when Simon was singing "I am a rock, I am an island," he had Garfunkel singing back-up. The Lone Ranger wouldn't have made it without Tonto. We need friends.
A football coach was having a very bad year. It got so bad he said it affected his home life. He recalled, '"My dog is my only friend,' I told my wife, 'a man needs at least two friends.' … She bought me another dog."
I'm not talking about dogs, I'm talking about a real friend. Someone you would call if you get to the airport at one in the morning and your car doesn't start. I worked with a guy once that said even his invisible friend didn't like him. Now that guy had problems. We need friends who will walk in when everyone else walks out.
A good friend will do four things for you. The first is give good cheer. We need encouragement. We need to be told that the light at the end of the tunnel is not a train.
We also need a listening ear. Many people don't listen, they just reload waiting to tell you what you've done wrong. We don't always want answers, we want assurance. Sometimes we don't need solutions, we just need sympathy.
Sometimes we need a sensitive tear. We need to be comforted. Comfort is the ability to stick it out without pointing it out. Kids understand comfort better than adults. Little Johnny was supposed to be home from school at a certain time each day. One day he was particularly late. When he came in his mother asked, "Where have you been?" He said, "I had to help a friend." "Well, what happened?" asked his mother. "My friend fell down and started to cry." "And what did you do?" "I sat down and cried with him." That's comfort.
Other times we need the truth without fear — someone who's not afraid to tell us the truth, even if it hurts. A few years ago I had back problems and my friend told me, "Your back is not your problem, Charles, it's your stomach. Your stomach is so big it's pulling on your back." First I was insulted and asked if he had been educated at pro-wrestling events. Then I realized he was right. I was getting bigger. I noticed it when I went out in my yellow rain coat and the people were running behind me hollering, "Taxi." A friend will see through you (or in my case, around me) and also see you through. I lost weight and now my back is fine — because a friend was not afraid to tell me the truth.
Good cheer, a listening ear, a sensitive tear, and the truth without fear. That's what friends are for, and a true friend will know when you need each one.
A little boy was home one day after his family had moved again — one of several moves over a period of a couple of years. You know how it is — in and out of school, in and out of school. On this day he was sitting home in a melancholy mood. Dad came in and the boy said, "Dad, let me ask you a question. Who do you want to be, Superman or Batman?" And Dad, caught up in his activity, said, "Well, Son, you know I'm kind of busy right now …," "Dad, come on, who do you want to be, Superman or Batman?" "Well, Superman, Son. I want to be Superman." "Why Dad? Why would you want to be Superman?" "Well, I don't know, Son. He can fly, that's why. Yeah, that's it, he can fly. I'd like to be Superman because he can fly." And Dad went about his business.
The little boy continued. "Dad, aren't you going to ask me who I want to be?" So the Dad complied, "OK. Who do you want to be, Superman or Batman?" "I want to be Batman." The father said, "Good, Son, that's good." The boy continued, "Dad?" "What?" "Aren't you going to ask me why?" "OK," the father sighed, "Why do you want to be Batman?" "I want to be Batman because Batman has a friend." Dad stopped, turned around, and saw a tear in his son's eye. He asked, "Son, do you need a friend?" " Yeah," he said, "I need a friend more than I need Superman."
I suspect that some of you need a friend and someone you know needs a friend. The best way to find a friend is to be a friend. Actually, you don't find friends, you recognize them. Be on the lookout.