Have you ever left the known and secure to pursue a dream? To have a fulfilling, respectful relationship with someone who would care for you and complement your personality, who would support your life goals and share your worldview?
Awhile back, a friend returned for a short visit to where I live, formerly his home town. Over two days, we talked a great deal about our insights and questions about our faith. We reminisced how God had first brought us together as we struggled with careers and family. We shook our heads at the difficulties our children—now adults–face in the ever-changing world of technology. Those high-speed devices increase production, speed communication, raise expectations to the sky and reduce personal connection to thumb clicks and messages blurred across a flat screen.
My friend and I are both reflective people but we’d never taken such an extended period of time to be so open and forthright—literally hours of almost non-stop talking. It was as if we’d come from opposite sides of a parched land to meet in the middle; there, we could refresh our souls with a man we trusted.
If the conversation wandered, he or I would pull it back to drain an idea of its potential. Everything was urgent and nothing was. He hit a nerve with me when he talked of intentional living; that he was looking for happiness when he should’ve been looking for God. Certainly, God wants to bless us; after all, he created us for good. I found Philippians 3:20, which asserts that “there’s far more to life for us … we’re citizens of high heaven.”
That time to talk openly and transparently wouldn’t have happened had he not returned to town in crisis …
Remember my question at the beginning? My friend had moved far away to create a new life. Many things hadn’t worked out, affecting relationships, his career, and prospects for the future.
I listened as he poured out hurts and confusion, like marbles from a can spilled across a broken sidewalk. He said he was overwhelmed by the mountain of decisions, challenge, and change that demanded attention. It was too much; he couldn’t do it. Then, he said it wasn’t too much for God. He meant it. I was blown away. I didn’t (probably still don’t) have that kind of faith. I told him I saw an authenticity that I wanted. Mistakes and adversity had scraped away the veneer of pride and pretension. No masks, I was looking at the real person.
We didn’t have a pity party. Yeah, we talked about disappointments and mistakes but we also claimed the small triumphs and generous friendships that had flavored our years. In one moment, we laughed at the absurdity of an ego-driven boss or a dumb mistake one of us had made; in the next, we spoke quietly about what we’d learned from the roles we’d been thrust into—husband, father, friend, lover, leader, follower, producer, protector, captain, caregiver, servant, mentor, believer, trusted one.
My friend still had to re-start his life. Relationships and career aren’t simply plucked off a tree. I told him I could see God’s hand taking him to areas that he wouldn’t have considered had he not crashed. His tremendous giftings are waiting to be fulfilled.
I couldn’t be smug. The vicissitudes of life are the lot of everyone this side of heaven. More hope from Philippians 3—“… pursue the things over which Christ presides … See things from his perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though unseen—is with Christ in God. He is your life …”
When I dropped him off that last day, he got out of my pickup, looked through the cab at me and said, “I love you.”
I felt unworthy … and thankful. My throat constricted, I croaked out the same words back to him.
He and I are brothers, not of blood, but of emotion and spirit. His burdens are mine; mine his. We share them to this day.