I woke up this am with the topic of “Friends” on my mind. I guess that this was on my mind because of the awesome time that we spent with some new friends last night. We met Christian in August as we returned to DFW from a board review course. Actually, our relationship started out on the wrong foot as we had trouble making connections with him at the airport. Christian was a member of the hotel staff that was supposed to pick us up from the airport and return us to our car, still parked at the hotel. He introduced himself to us, and we began to talk to Christian on the way back to our hotel. My irritation, over the delay, went away quickly as he talked with us. He is a very personable young man and he was very candid as we talked. In the few short miles from DFW to the Embassy Suites in Grapevine, Christian had told us that he was originally from Cincinnati, OH. He had moved to Dallas several years ago because of an “incredible woman” that had moved from OH to TX with her family. After knowing the reason for his move and the amount of time that they had been dating , we asked him why he had not asked Erin to marry him. He told us that it was primarily because he did not want to make a mistake. He was concerned that they would change, over time, and that their relationship would be different. God had been in our conversations, so I mentioned to Christian, that if he felt that God had meant for them to get married, that as they matured that they would change individually and as a couple. That “change” would occur for them together. Their relationship might very well be different, but it could actually be better. I explained to him that my relationship with Jill is different and far superior to what it was when we got married 22 years ago.
We knew that we would be coming back to the same hotel for the OU-Texas football game in October. We told Christian that we were going to check with him to see how things had gone and to see if he had proposed to his lovely lady. When we returned in October, Christian was not working that weekend. We asked the hotel staff if they could get him a message and give him a gift that we had put together. Since that time, we have seen Christian when we flew out of DFW to a Missions Conference in Louisville, KY and talked with him on the phone. He asked us for help in deepening his walk with Christ and we have been able to start a bible study, “Growing in Christ” with him. We try to meet by phone weekly, and our kids have joined this study as well.
While in Dallas yesterday, we were able to meet Erin and have dinner with these two charming young people. They informed us that they were engaged and that they would be married on July 7th. It makes me feel old that young adults would look to me for advice, but I am honored to give it.
Deep, really honest friends are hard to come by, a lot of times, for guys. We tend to not want to open up enough to share with other guys and we find that time with other guys goes smoother talking about the weather or OUr favorite sports teams. I have really good friends from growing up, and really good friends from the last few years. The first group are guys that I went to Falls Creek and on youth mission trips with. The second group, are guys that I have met through Emmaus, foreign mission trips, church small groups, or through supporting a common friend through hard times. These are guys that I might not have seen for months, but if I called them and told them that I was “sinking”, they would be there with a “life boat” without asking questions. But there is a space of time in the middle, from high school graduation to residency graduation, that I did not make the time to invest in good friendships. My Christian walk suffered as a result of this. Jill invested this time and has many lifelong friends that were made in OKC and Tulsa.
The great Ozarkian philosopher, Capitan Will Cunningham, once told me (over a glass of magic orange juice and while discussing the ousring story of Rindacella) that “every man needs a friend that he can vomit all over, and it not affect their friendship”. Someone that you can go fishing with and air all of you dirty laundry and that friend not judge you. Someone that can offer you advice in love but not criticism or guilt. I would encourage you to look for people that can be that kind of friend. Then, you will need to invest the time to foster this relationship. Be vulnerable and God will bless your trust in Him and your trust in your friend.
What does this have to do with our trip to Uganda? It is through the support of some of our good friends that we felt empowered to go to Uganda on short term mission trips. It is through even more support and encouragement from our friends that we will be able to go for a longer period of time.
Thank you to my wonderful friends. I hope that I can return that same caliber of friendship to you. I also pray that I can foster that same type of friendship and trust with my new friend Christian and other new friends that we will meet in Uganda.