A couple of weeks ago, I was having coffee with a new friend. During the course of the conversation, I mentioned that I was having lunch with one of my best friends from high school later that day. His name is Chris also. My new friend immediately said, “that is really something, you know how rare it is to still be close to one of your high school friends?” As I reflected on his comments, I realized that most don’t have life-long friends like Chris and I have become. So, it got me thinking about, why is that? And, what’s unique about our relationship? Well, to answer these questions, I likely need to tell a bit more of our story.
So, going back to the late 70’s and early 80’s, Chris and I were in elementary school. At the time Little League Baseball was likely what drew us together. Chris as a catcher and I was a pitcher, so, we found ourselves getting together on a regular basis to practice. Yes, we did have one of the best team in the league year in and year out, but that’s another story.
I remember Chris inviting me over on Saturday nights to stay the night. We’d get up the next morning and go to church. We simply were best buds not unlike many of the friends most have fond memories of. You know, you remember those day…right?
In the summers of 1980 and 1981, Chris and I had the privilege of spending a week at my grandparent’s lake house. Spending a week in the summer at my grandparent’s lake house was something I did from a very young age. I have many fond memories of these times, and so appreciate that my grandparents allowed me to bring a friend in the later years. It was the second summer that something very special happened.
One thing that always seemed to stand out with Chris when spending the night together, was he always said a goodnight prayer. Adding to this, my grandparents were ones to pray before every meal and were instrumental in my faith walk. So, something happen with me the summer of 1981 while at the lake with Chris and my grandparents (see picture). One night, when we went to bed, I asked Jesus to come into my life. I really didn’t know what that meant, but I felt Chris had something I wanted. I didn’t share this with anyone at the time, and honestly, with our family not attending a church, I didn’t really have much “watering of the seed” that had been planted.
After the summer of 1981, Chris and my relationship began to drift. Chris was a year behind me in school and we simply lost touch through the elementary to middle school transition. I’ve had times that I have looked back, with a bit of regret, about that leaving Chris behind. Now that I have children of my own, I realize these middle school years are very turbulent for friends and I can see that this might have been a bit of a hurtful time for Chris.
Later in high school, Chris and my relationship was rekindled as Lisa, my wife, was in his class and they attended the same church. Chris and I had the opportunity to play on a State Championship football team in 1986. This experience, as well as being in a singing group together (yes, we thought we could sing…oh my), pulled us back together just in time for me to leave for college. So, you know what normally happens at that point, we drifted again. As a matter of fact, we drifted so far that Chris didn’t even end up in my wedding party when Lisa and I got married in 1992. (Sorry about that one brother!) The next 10 years, I don’t really recall much of Chris and my relationship. I am sure we touched base on occasion; however, there were many years of dry spells and I don’t recall much.
My recollection of our reconnecting was around 2003. I don’t even recall how we reconnected, however, what I do remember is a phone call. Lisa and I had just gone through a major job transition and it was the first time that I really started to scratch my head asking, “is this really what you have for me God?” You know that feeling…right? There comes a time in everyone’s life that they tend to start asking this question, and seeking the purpose behind life. So, I found myself on the phone talking with Chris and telling him, “you know, sometimes I just want to go into ministry.” In that conversation, Chris shared something that I’ll never forget. He said, “Chris, let me share something my mentor shared with me (his mentor was CEO of a large corporation). He told me that Corporate America needs leaders like ourselves.” It was at this point that I started to really connect with that fact that we’re all in ministry and God had called me to the marketplace.
For the next few years, Chris and I would touch base occasionally. Then, in 2008, I lost my job at which time I reached out to Chris. At that point, I recognized I was never truly was intentional about relationships outside of my immediate family. Yes, I was likely viewed as a nice guy and had many acquaintances; however, I wasn’t “intentional” in my relationships. So, since that time, Chris and I have chosen to be “intentional” in our relationship.
So, what’s that look like today? Really, it’s as simple as lunch every few months with an occasional email throughout. One of the things Chris and I have remarked about is how easy it is for us to go months without talking yet pick back up just where we left off. Unlike others who seem to go a week without talking and possibly start to get their feeling hurt.
There are a number of gaps in the story and many more memorable occasions. I could go on for hours with memories; however, this catches the essence of our relationship. So, why is it that our relationship seems to work and I anticipate we’ll be life-long friends? You likely picked up on a few while reading the story. Let me offer a few thoughts from my end.
- First and foremost, our relationship is centered on Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Chris and I are not bashful about talking about our faith to include struggles and joyful experiences. Not to go off on a tangent too far, however, many seem to be inspired by the relationship Lisa and I have and ask “how it works?” Our answer is always the same, it’s “centered on Christ”.
- Being Christ-centered, while we’re not perfect, you would see that our relationship is characterized by the fruits of the spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” Gal 5:22.
- Forgiveness – We’ve both made some mistakes in our relationship throughout the years. As noted above, I left Chris behind and he didn’t even make my wedding party. However, Chris has never held this against me.
- Humility – The things noted so far likely capture this, however, I believe it’s importance enough to call it out. While we are both very driven people, we both treat each other with great respect and humility.
- Intentional – All relationships take intentionality to grow and mature. While it doesn’t take much for Chris and I to stay together, it wouldn’t happen if we weren’t intentional about getting together every few months.
So, these are five keys to why I believe our relationship works. As alluded to above, Lisa, my wife, and I are blessed as well with a wonderful relationship. I would tell you that these same items are keys to our relationship as well. Much like Lisa, I consider Chris a blessing from God and will always be there for him as his brother in Christ. I hope many of you have experienced similar relationships, and, if not, I encourage you to be intentional about creating these types of relationships. Life is too difficult to “go it alone”. Above all, try starting with your relationship with Christ!
Thanks for being there brother! I love you lots! God bless!