In January 2015 Netflix added the TV series “Friends” to its online streaming library. It has been 10 years since the show stopped airing on network TV. I’ve seen every episode (multiple times), but now I’m (re)watching it again. I love this show. It makes me laugh. I care about these fictional characters, and it made me sad when they went their separate ways at the end of the show.
Not long after “Friends” ended, “Joey” premiered in the same time-slot on Thursday nights. “Joey” was a spin-off of “Friends” featuring one of the most beloved characters. I was among the millions who tuned in for the early episodes, but quickly lost interest. I stopped watching sometime during the first season. The show went on hiatus and got cancelled during its second season. Why? What was the difference? Many of the same writers and producers worked on both shows. There was a common, familiar character. Why did I and millions of other people stop watching? For me the answer is simple. For 10 seasons these fictional friends were there with each other in every significant moment. They were with each other through divorce, identity crisis, birth, death, weddings, funerals, job loss, joy, sorrow, triumph and tragedy. In the spin-off, everything Joey experienced happened apart from the ones who had come be more like family than friends. It just didn’t seem right.
It doesn’t seem right in the real world either. The most difficult times in my life are not marked by particular events. The worst times in my life have been those when I felt isolated from family (both biological and extended). The best times in my life are not marked by events either. The best times in my life are all connected to relationships. When the events of life happen — good or bad — it matters who we share them with. [tweetthis]When the events of life happen — good or bad — it matters who we share them with.[/tweetthis] This is why Michelle and I hold relationships as one of our core family values. We say it like this, “We commit to loving each other and inviting others into our family.” Who are you inviting into your family?
This is a terrifying proposition for some people. There is a lie many people believe. It says, “We have to hold everyone at a safe distance to avoid getting hurt.” We bow to the pain of broken relationships and we start to obey the fear of getting hurt again. Don’t believe the lie! We are not meant to live in isolation. We are meant to share our lives with people who we love and who love us unconditionally. It isn’t always easy or convenient, but Michelle and I (and the kids too) are learning to share our lives with other people. We don’t always get it right, but it is worth working on. This is one of the best time of our lives because we are sharing it with friends who are more like family. I can’t imagine life any other way.