For many people, developing deep and meaningful friendships can be challenging. It’s hard work, and one must make hard decisions and plan accordingly. On Sunday, I went on a bike ride. Due to time constraints, it was my intention to do it on my own since my wife, Colleen, was busy. She suggested, however, that I call Doug. Hmm… another schedule to accommodate and a potential disruption to my afternoon. Since Colleen has been confronting me on occasion about my lack of effort to build friendships, when I saw Doug in church, I asked if he want to go on an afternoon bike ride and let him know I was leaving in an hour. He first said “no,” then, “let me think about it.” Then he said, “I’ll call you in 30 minutes and let you know.” As promised, he called and said he wanted to go. We had a great ride and enjoyed engaging conversation and a few laughs. And, of course, he said he gave up his Sunday afternoon activity because his wife said he should do more things with friends. Thank goodness for wives who look after the well-being of their husbands!
On the surface, a simple bike ride hardly seems noteworthy, yet simple activities shared with others can have a lasting effect. As we age and find ourselves more on our own, loneliness may be more hazardous to our health than obesity, and a growing number of Americans are at risk. According to a study from AARP, about 42.6 million American adults over age 45 are believed to suffer from chronic loneliness.
Research supports developing friendships might be lifesaving. So, the next time someone ask you out to coffee, a bike ride, or another activity, remember that it could be good for both of you.
My favorite three questions apply:
- What do you want?
- What do you have?
- What, then, must you do?