Tending the Temple

Lifeline: Phone a Friend

Do you remember that nighttime game show “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire” hosted by Regis Philbin? The contestant had to answer increasingly difficult multiple choice trivia questions in order to win the prize, and one wrong answer sent them home with nothing. Luckily, they had three “lifelines” they could use to get the right answer: 50/50 (which left two choices from which to guess), Ask The Audience (which was a poll), and Phone-A-Friend. What struck me is that so many contestants left the show having never used even one of their lifelines. What a shame.

That probably would have been me, though. I used to think I knew the right answer until I learned from experience I was wrong. This trait serves me well in situations that call for decisive action and taking chances when no lifelines are available. But there are very few times in life when we don’t have the time to consider our choices and seek guidance.

On the game show, the “friend” was already on standby, holding on the end of the telephone line. In life, it’s not that easy. The friend I want may not always be available, which is why it’s good to have more than one to call when I’m desperate for a shoulder to cry on.  And it’s not very courteous of me to call her only when I’m in crisis either; for one thing, it’s rude and selfish and one-sided, and for another, it’s not very practical. How can she be of service in the bad times if she doesn’t know anything about me in the good times?

One of my self-care goals for 2012 is to nurture my female friendships by having at least one phone conversation with a friend per day. Ideally it should be a different person each day. Making the phone call and simply leaving a message counts. Receiving an incoming call counts. Effort counts, because the hardest part for me is picking up the phone in the first place. Once the other person answers, I’m fine. After all, I am my mother’s daughter. And you know how she can talk, and talk, and talk . . . .

On January 1, I actually wrote the names of the people I was going to call on my calendar for each day! Writing it down like that doesn’t assure me that I will actually follow through, but it greatly increases the chances, at least for me. I haven’t followed the schedule exactly, but it is a big help to me each morning when I look at the calendar and set the intention to call so-and-so, and consider what time will be most convenient to reach her and give her my undivided attention.

One of the hardest parts for me is wondering what to say, and I’ve had to learn this from my friends who call me. I paid extra attention:

  • “Hi Christy, it’s So-And-So . . . .I was just calling to say hi and see how you were doing.”
  • “Hi Christy, this is So-And-So from church. I was wondering if you could help me with a project my ministry is doing.”
  • “Hi Christy, my son was wondering if Teague could play, and I thought maybe we could arrange a playdate.”

I suppose starting phone conversations is a skill that comes easily to most people; I’m a late bloomer in that area, but I’m a quick study. My friends have taught me by example, and now that phone is not heavy to pick up and dial. One week into January and this has been one of the most rewarding goals I’ve ever set for myself, and one I look forward to keeping each day.


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