I have never been, in all my life, someone that reaches out to others. I have, to some minds, been downright unfriendly. I am not sure why this is. I would say I am not unfriendly. I am maybe unresponsive. For whatever the reason, I always assumed that people could care less what I think or feel and that any input I might offer would be irrelevant. I never thought about myself as being necessary or important to the lives of people around me, even family members to a certain extent.
Barbara Streisand used to sing about people who need people back in the 70's. I hated that song, mostly because I could not imagine needing people. I was accomplished at seeing to my own needs and the involvement of others in my life seemed to always complicate my agenda, so I would steer clear of anything but surface relationships. This worked for a very long time off and on in my life, but there were and are others that would not and will not let me get away with this. I write this today in praise of those people, my close friends, both in my time of need and in good times as well. You have added complexity to my life, taught me relationship skills and even how to love. I am a bit Aspie like from time to time and you have all stayed with me despite my cranky demeanor. I love you all.
My first friend was Kelly Dean Jones. We were both three years old when we met. I have written about him before. We did many things together including trying to kill each other. Had some considerable fun in the sand pile as well as breaking into a church building. We had little in the way of life experience to discuss, but we experienced the full range of childhood emotions with each other. Kelly, I don't know where you are, but I hope you are alive and well. You may not remember me, but I remember you.
I had many other more shallow friendships throughout childhood, but I never really got close to anyone again until high school. Brian, who I have discussed before here, became my good friend through many years even beyond high school. He pursued me as a friend when I was not in a place to appreciate what it meant to be a friend. He seemed to sense that I needed someone even when I did not. He pushed. He was not afraid of me as many were at the time. Eventually we shared every secret two young men can have. We had a lot of fun too. Brian, I know you can't hear me, but I do think about you from time to time, especially when I hear Elton or Billy. You had a major influence on my musical tastes. Thanks man!
Nina...you are a frequent visitor here and have been my perennial friend since church youth group. I walked away from you once. I am sorry I ever did that. In case I never apologized, I am sorry. You have tolerated much by tolerating me. I am a better man for having known you. I especially have enjoyed disagreeing with you. Thankfully we can agree to disagree and still love each other. Thanks for pursuing me in times when I tried to hide...from everyone. I love you.
Deborah, ours has been a roller coaster. You will probably hate this, but you were always like the wife I never had. I know we are divorced now ;^) but we are better apart I think than together. We have strong personalities and opinions of equal and opposite strength. Clash was inevitable. Even so, you have had a major influence on my life and you have made me see the other side of things even if I would not change my mind. You were always there when I needed to vent about my secrets. I appreciate that more than you will ever know. I do still love you, but I do not want to fight with you..though we did even that well together. I will never forget you, barring Alzheimer's or amnesia!
Robert...we shared many things in the short time we had together including each other. I blame you for our brief friendship. You pursued me with the literal passion of a man in need. We were not exactly walking by the Spirit in those days. I regret, in some respects, not telling you 'no' and at other times, I do not regret it nearly enough. We should have left it alone, but we did not. Even so, my experience with you was enlightening to say the least. I am glad to have known you. Hope you are well.
Eric...You...you are different than all the others. I know you know that. You were the first straight man to pursue me. I am not sure why you bothered or where you thought it was going or maybe you just did not want to go fishing by yourself, but you have ministered to me in ways that no one else has done. I think, I know that one on one ministry is your gift. I hope you will continue to do that even as your career transitions from professional ministry to teaching. God has blessed you with an ease of mind and an ability communicate what needs to said to the people in your care. I praise the Lord for your presence in my life. I hope that you and my new friend Steve will stand side by side one day and lower my ashes into the appropriate hole at Rising Sun Cemetery. I am proud to have known you. I miss you man!
Steve..I do not know why, but you made your presence immediately known in my life when you arrived at church. You were up and in my face regularly even as I pushed you away. You too are gifted in one on one encounters and ministry and I am thankful for it. You sensed that I was about to explode and you helped me release the energy in a nondestructive way. I continue to give thanks for that. You are surprisingly and unexpectedly sensitive to others. Maybe the Spirit is keeping you informed or maybe it's just a gift. Thanks for being in my life. I hoped to enjoy your input for years to come.
And Lord, I would be remiss if I did not put you out here. You have rigorously pursued me throughout my life. I don't know why you love me, but I know you do. You know me better than all these. You know things about me that none of these other know and even so, you still love me. Jesus, I pray that you continue to pursue me as you have. You are my very best friend and so I really think we should meet in person some day :^) I look forward to Forever with You. Thanks also putting all these wonderful people in my life. I have needed and under-appreciated everyone of them. I will try and stop that first part.
I love all of you. Thanks...what else can I say? Thanks.