JUANITA FLOYD: What would we do without friends to lean on?



I attended a dinner meeting in New Albany last month. One of the speakers for the event was Vance Witt, Chairman of the Board of BNA Bank. He expounded on the importance of family, friends, church, community and the workplace. He said, “My Lord is first and foremost. My family, my friends, my job and my community are very important to me.” He stressed that all of us should be working on the same team to keep our communities viable, and to give back to our communities whenever appropriate.

He learned a lifelong lesson from his father as a young boy growing up. His father owned a small-town grocery store, and many times he saw his father giving more to the people than the people actually buying. His father’s lesson to him was – give back and help people in your community when you can. He then talked about how thankful he was for his family and his friends.

As I listened to him talk about the importance of family and friends, I immediately thought of the friends the Lord has blessed me with: Friends who are there for me during my most trying times; friends who support me; friends who encourage and pick me up when it seems I can’t put another step forward; friends who cheer me up when I am saddened; friends that sticketh closer than sometimes family; and friends to lean on in the time of trouble.

There have been so many times in my life, with exception to the Lord, that my family and friends have been the catalyst to keep me going when the burdens of daily living seemed to weigh me down. Eight years ago, I was launched into single parent status after 21 years of marriage. I didn’t know how I was going to survive and how I was going to raise two sons and a daughter alone. My family and friends stepped up to the plate and literally carried me to home base. Family and friends immediately said, “What can I do, or how can I help you?” They didn’t utter idle words of help – they meant them!

Another major upheaval in my life was when my mother passed. I received so much support and love from friends during that period of loss. Calls, cards, food and visits were received from so many (referenced in an earlier article). Friends were pillars of strength, comforting me with words and deeds. I received a beautiful package – inside was a print with the words, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…” A friend treated me to lunch to help cheer me up. Another stopped by with a beautiful ceramic cross set to serve as a reminder of the Lord’s redemption power and love for my mother and mankind. So many called and told me they were sorry to hear about my loss, and that they simply didn’t know Mama had passed. One friend stopped by just to give me a hug. Oprah said, “Every one of us gets through the tough times because somebody is there, standing in the gap…”

I shared this to say, I know without a doubt that no matter what your status is in life (black or white; rich or poor) – we need each other. No man is an island. My friends are a diverse group of people, and they are all so important in my life.

By the way, while sitting at that meeting in New Albany, I gained a new friend, Jennifer Livingston. We shared our life stories and realized we had so much in common with each other. We had never met, but by the end of the meeting, I felt as if I had known her my entire life.

On this Mother’s Day, I honor all mothers. I am so thankful to have had a mother who taught me the importance of family, friends and relationships. What is important in your life? Is it family, friends, community, etc.? You be the judge.

Juanita Gambrell Floyd is vice president for Finance and Administration at CREATE Foundation. Contect her at juanita@createfoundation.com.