February 2009

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The Friendly Series: Preamble

It is said that a hug is worth a thousand words, and a friend is worth more. It is said that friends are those who know plenty about you, and decide to like you anyway. It is said that friends are those who are there for you when they could rather be anywhere else. And, it is said that friends are the most important ingredients in life.

When you are young, friends were easy to come by: your father, your classmates, your neighbors – and anyone who is willing to be your playmate. As time passes, and as we grow, friendship might have taken on new meanings. But, at the heart of friendship is a pair who will partake in one another’s life: sometimes towards encouragement, sometimes to catch each other from falling, and many a times yielding a wealth of influence.

With that preamble, the next series of postings are dedicated to the most influential friends in my life: friends who knew plenty about me, but gave their hugs anyway.

Mr. Christian

It was another day at school in 1994. During recess, a new face showed up on the playground. "Wanta play tag?" was the invitation from the little guy. He sported a near buzz cut and a real big smile. Nice hair cut! – I thought, and we proceeded to play tag. And that smile of his, from ear to ear, would go on to impress upon me his defining characteristic – that carefree, and yet immensely caring, spirit.

A year of tag playing later, we went to the same high school. We enjoyed certain scholarly partnerships, and occasional sessions of video games. Though we did not go to university together, the Lord would have it that we worked in the same company. During that time, I went along with his ride here and there; laser tag, skating, dinner & movie, or just to and from work. He is, by a record of time, one of my oldest friends.

To say carefree, is to watch as a child turned into a young man who all that time, uttered not a complaint. At least, that's how I remember him. For a good while he succeeded in immersing himself in the world of video games, and that might have helped him achieve that carefree frame of mind. He even held a full time job playing games, and his life would consist of waking up, playing games for work, and then playing games for recreation. I asked him, are you happy with life? His response: not a care in the world! I asked whether he wanted more than a simple life: a big house, a girl friend, perhaps a good job. The answers? He earned enough to purchase an apartment. He'd only consider a girlfriend if she is a qualified gamer. And finally, he already had a great job! Then, he began growing out of video games, built up a shiny real estate portfolio, and became acquainted with a lovely young lady who may or may not have qualified as a gamer. The query repeated: are you happy with life? -- I'll let you guess the answer.

To say immensely caring, is to have a friend who almost religiously accommodates the needs of those around him. Never caring for the limelight, he graciously offers this and that to his guests. Thirsty? He'll mix you a drink. Hungry? He'll cook you dinner. Got more bodies than gaming equipment? He'll sit out and play cheerleader. Exhausted in an upward climb? He'll make sure you get to the top. No where to go? Join the party at his house! This list could go on and on, and to each of his friends he offers what that friend needs. I cannot think of any other acquaintance of mine who exhibits this extraordinary ability. Usually, we choose to buddy up with those who are like us. This friend of mine, however, has an amazing track record of befriending those who are not very much at all like him, and he has this ability to glue these friends together and then, new friendships are born. Much like the salt that the Bible spoke of, to his neighbors and his neighbors' neighbors, he brought peace and friendship.

All this, screams an immensely Christian life. A self proclaimed non-Christian, he might shake his head fervently at the idea that he might have been the biggest Christian influence in someone's life. But, as I tell him, it doesn't matter if he denies being Christian, so long as he is. He has been a primary source of Christian influence, one that continues to accompany and educate me, and one that almost feels out of reach as he illuminates from above. To care for neighbors from their many walks of life and yet not have a care in the world might at first seem like a difficult undertaking, but one that fits perfectly within the framework of a devoted Christian who is at once humble, loving, and otherworldly.


Tai Meng | 孟泰 | Last Updated: July 23, 2013