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.
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,
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
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