There is a moment in every life – more than one really – when you have that sinking feeling that you’re the lead person of the newest Titanic. You’re rushing full on in life, slightly like a cat over water, focused on doing the right thing and being yourself in this crazy world. Somewhere in the middle of all of that, you realize that it’s Monday morning (for me its Wednesday) and the whole world has just fallen into chaos. Monday can be our anxiety agent.
Today was once such day for my good friend, but not so much for me. I have them often, days of stress and being behind in whatever venture I am off to. It’s funny (in a not funny way) that this friend who helps balance me and takes away the aggravated ache in my chest with his smile and his easy humor, with his undeniably great spirit and honest humility….doesn’t see what a great person he is. He can’t quite see the reflection that I get out of him, and it’s not contrived – he’s been around the world enough to have some history that he’d rather forget. It makes him all the more worthwhile to be around because you can tell him the truth and he doesn’t girl out and run for the hills. He makes a significant difference in the world, and it’s a better place with him in it.
Amidst his angst of the day, he still sat with me for a long while, laughing and talking about life in general. I love how people will willingly give you their heart when they’re all in like that. There really is no artifice to him, although he admits to being a superior poker player. As an ex addicted now pastor, he’s probably the most accountable, brutally honest person I know, which is how he and I became friends – he’ll call me on almost anything. I have one of his great quotes now – “We love on another enough to tell the truth and still respect each other.” Granted he was talking about someone else and his body language said he wanted to pop the guy in the head, but the fact that he didn’t speaks volumes.
You know what I love about friends like this? They’re real people with all these murky problems, drama in the background, and they still operate in grace and peace. They don’t pretend to be the super pastor guy with the perfect image. They’re real, in the mud with you (or you with them) and it’s a circle among equal margin – you can just be yourself and give into the relationship without fear. My friend, who gave up all his afternoon to hang with me, is one of several unique and special people who can see folks in the margin with wide open hearts and really care. He’s empathetic but not a pushover – truth with grace. An honorable alley cat, with the scars to prove both. A tough softie….but not always a nice guy…or always safe. A mixture of both. That is what makes life worth living, isn’t it? The danger and the balance? Too much of either and you’re living in the grey again.
There is something special about a person who has every waiter and barista come to say hi with genuine warmth, because he actually cares how they are and who they are. People who walk by stop and say hello, shake his hand and care that he acknowledges them. He seems to take this all in without realizing that he’s well thought of – and without trying. I love that about him, that everyone is equal – and basically screwed up. That way, we’re all in this together. Behind those big brown eyes of his still lurks pain, wonder and a need for affirmation. Without it, we’d be having a single sided conversation, and I would have nothing to offer him in return. Our imperfections require community.
About his friend Alison – he thinks of me as “slightly crispy,” with a big presence and lots of confidence. Most of the time, he’s right. I really appreciate the honesty he offers me…a mutual appreciation of all things joy, passion and life. All this energy and intensity that people seem to like….I think that is code for noisy, but I didn’t want to ask.
So that is my wish for you today, my friends of the world. I wish on you people like my friend who is unique, authentic, in for the long haul…people who seem to inspire you to be a better person too, who both need and encourage you to believe in God and yourself a little more each day.
That is a remarkable thing.