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Living Large in Your Friendships

friendship ral leadReprinted from ReadyAimLife.

Let me tell you about one of my best friends ever.  His name is Tim- just like me.  We met when we were in the 4th grade in a small rural elementary school.  My family has just moved from Dallas and we settled in a small community called Tull, AR (population 273).  Tim was kind of a playground legend and all around great guy.  We moved into town when I was in the 7th grade and I still kept track of Tim and some of the other folks I knew through following how they were doing in athletics.  When I was about 16, Tim resurfaced in my orbit when he began to play baseball for the same team I was on.  We reconnected quickly and began to hang out a lot.  His senior year, he transferred into our cross-county rival school district.  He was instrumental in leading them to the state championship in basketball.  My senior year, I spent more time hanging out with him and following the Hornet Basketball team than even my own high school team.

As many high school friends do, we lost track of one another in college.  But, when it came time for me to get married I asked him to be one of my groomsmen.  I can still remember him to be THE guy who didn’t participate in my destruction at my bachelor’s party as late in the evening my “friends” decided to have a food fight at my expense. Tim was the guy who got the towel and helped me clean the peanut butter, cereal and raw eggs out of my ears.  But, the wedding weekend ended and we each went on back to our lives and I lost track of him again.  Last I heard he was a fishing guide in Texas.  That is so like him.  He is the guy who actually taught me how to shoot a gun, chop wood and drive a stick shift.  Now here I am 20+ years later and as I think back over my life I still hold him as one of my dear friends, even though I haven’t seen or heard from him in decades.

Why is it that some people just connect with your life in a permanent way and others roll through your life like sand through an hourglass?  Why do some of your friends bring you such peace of heart and others drive you crazy.  What is it that makes friendships work?  I think it is pretty simple- LOVE.  Now I know that men aren’t supposed to talk about emotional stuff and heaven forbid that we should tell another man that we love them (unless you’re drunk).  But guys, that warm affection that you have for your friends is LOVE.  And the lack of warm affection that you have for everyone else is NOT-LOVE.  Women have it right in that they are a least willing to let each other know they care for one another.  Before you get too uncomfortable, let’s de-feminize the concept by sharing a great definition that the apostle Paul used for love in 1 Corinthians Chapter 13.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.[1]

Are you patient with your friends?  Are you kind?  Do you envy your friends when they succeed or celebrate?  Are you arrogant or humble with your friends?  Are you rude?  Do you seek your own way or are you always trying to find out what best for someone else?  Do you get angry with your friends easily?  Do you keep score with the wrongs your friend has done?  Are your friendships centered on truth or evil?  Do you protect your friends?  Do you give your friends the benefit of the doubt?  Are your friendships long lasting and full of hope, perseverance and consistency?

The Beatles got a lot of things wrong but they were spot on when they said, “all we need is love, love, love is all we need!”  Another poet said it this way, “What the world needs now is love sweet love that’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.” Jesus said it first.  We are to love God with all of our being and love our neighbor as ourselves.  He also said that we could have no greater love than this: we should lay down our life for our friends.  These days I spend more time talking with people about getting together than actually getting together.  What is it about our culture that has so isolated us?  The thing I miss most about being in school is getting to hang out with your buddies every day. Seems that the closest many of us get to reconnecting to old friends is online Facebook conversations or to peruse their profiles on Classmates.  Living large (or living an abundant life) in your friendship is about learning how to connect in a consistent, meaningful way.   Said another way, we need to live out our love for our friend.  Could be as simple as keeping in touch.

I miss my buddy Tim.  I wonder what he is up to these days.  I may a do a little Facebook search and see if I can find him.  Friendship is a terrible thing to waste.

Photo by CarbonNYC

[1]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (1 Co 13:4). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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