I was speaking at a DIDS meeting in rural New South Wales last night and I was commending the group for becoming real lifesavers in reaching out to each other in support.

I told them that this country was once renowned for its mateship, and sadly I believe we have lost that somehow. We have lost the knowledge of what being a mate is all about. It is my belief that DIDS is often about resurrecting that mateship.

“You don’t know where that guy sitting next to you has come from,” I told them.

“You don’t know whether he was sitting outside in his car with a gun stuck in his ear, or whether he was staring at a rope wrapped around the beam of his shed.

“You don’t know where he has come from. You don’t know how he feels. Just by listening, just by saying, ‘It’s OK how you feel. Or maybe by learning that it’s OK how you feel.’ You are reaching out.

“You are holding your hand out to a mate who’s in trouble and simply saying, ‘I’m here, I’m listening, I care. I may not be able to do any more than that, but I’m here for you just the same.'”

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Then why don’t we practise it more? Well maybe lots of us have been burnt in the past. We’re suspicious. Our trust issues have been blown away. Or maybe we feel it’s safer to keep a distance. Maybe we don’t want to get involved. Maybe we don’t want to catch what they have.

Maybe we are just plain scared. Maybe we have lost a mate along the way. But do you know that often all it takes to save a life, is simply extend a hand in friendship? I tell my lifesavers that all the time.

Often, it’s just a phone call that makes the difference. Just a call to say, “You OK? How about catching up for a coffee?” or just listening. It’s the simple things that make a difference and often it’s the call that saves a life.

Driving home last night, I was talking to my mate. His name is Jesus and He is my mate. I can talk to Him about anything, and I often do. You may not see him physically sitting in the car next to me, but I do.

Sometimes he is there in an empty seat. Other times he appears in the face of one of our lifesavers who is travelling with me. Often he appears in the face of the dads in distress who attend our meetings.

Often I see him in the face of my children. I am blessed that my mate is always there for me, no matter what. I am no angel, and it’s amazing how He always makes His presence felt just when I’m about to make a move in the wrong direction. Uncanny that.

I would say, “Hey, can’t you turn your head for this one, Lord, it’s not a biggie,” and of course He just makes His presence felt and you know He’s got you. Why? Because He is my mate, because He is looking after me, because He is watching my back, because I love Him and because I want to be His mate. Mates do that for one another. Often I am not the mate I should be, but it doesn’t stop me trying.

And neither should you.

[Photo by Roman Odintsov from Pexels]

About the Author: Tony Miller

Tony Miller was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in the 2010 Queen's Birthday honors list 'For service to the community through the provision of support services for separated families'.

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