I texted one of my best friends the other day about going on a hiking trip next month. My friend will probably not be able to make it – perhaps later this year or some other time. Of course I’m disappointed, but that’s what happens when you live long distances away from friends and family.
I’m grateful for good friends and I find it interesting how some friendships evolve. For instance I met my friend at a pickup basketball game one evening at the local church building I attended about 12 years ago. He had introduced himself during church services a previous Sunday. My first impression that he was much older than me. He had a shaved head and goatee and was rather a thick guy. So I was a little surprised when he showed up to play basketball with some younger looking guys with whom I later learned he’d not long ago graduated high school. I was older by almost five years. After a ‘touch on the aggressive side’ defense I didn’t think much of this guy and his friends. I took things too personally perhaps, but I thought the behavior was indicative of a personality I wouldn’t much get along with. I just thought we probably didn’t have anything in common.
A few weeks later I went to volunteer for a church assignment and who should I meet there but Phil, the guy with the goatee and shaved head. We split up during the assignment into two groups and went our separate ways for a few hours. Later we regrouped and discussed the evenings accomplishments. A couple of the other guys started asking me questions about bicycles. Phil jumped into the conversation by describing an interesting two-wheel drive bicycle he had at home. I soon discovered that we had much more in common and the distrusting reserve I had felt slowly gave way to a friendlier attitude. That night we became good friends.
Since then we’ve had a lot of great experiences together. He asked me to be his best man at his wedding in Brazil and I likewise asked him to be my best man in Colorado when I got married to my beautiful Brazilian wife. I think back to the first time I met Phil and I think what a shame it would have been had I not had a change of heart. I would have missed out on so much. I remembered something while writing this blog – the night Phil and I got back from our service activity some 12 years ago, I had returned in a more humble, charitable attitude as a result of the service we had rendered. A better self was present and I think that made a difference. I also think that our common beliefs have helped strengthen our friendship. It’s certainly something that we’ve had conversations about.
The following article Real Friendship speaks further about the affect the gospel can have on our friendships. It was written by a respected leader in our church – Jeffrey Holland who provides a few scriptural anecdotes about good friends and the gospel link. Feel free to comment on this post with your own stories.