This post is the second of a three part series on “Encounters (and lessons) of friendship from this summer”. You might want to read this first (CLICK HERE) if you have not already.
Sam Shin and I met during summer weight lifting prior to our first season of high school football. We were among the only football players at my high school which were also in advanced classes. We spent massive amounts of time together.
He was like a brother to me. We were in each other’s homes, eating meals together, and doing about every goofy road trip known to man together. I can’t even count the number of times we snuck into a local apartment complex to play tennis and use their pool between 17-19 years old. When we both headed off to Georgia Tech, it was a foregone conclusion that we would room together.
Twenty years later and thousands of hours of hanging with each other, we are as close as ever.
This summer, I arrived at Sam and Young Mee’s home exhausted. Life had been taxing in every sense the previous few months. I was spent emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
I got to their home after a week packed with meetings in Colorado. We had two nights and one full day together.
Do you know what we did? Pretty much nothing. . . and it was glorious. We played with his beautiful daughter, we ate some wonderful home cooked meals, and we listlessly watched Phil Mickelson win the British Open, as I laid up on one couch and he on the other.
It was exactly what I needed from our friendship at that point in life.
This encounter with Sam in Denver pointed to the simple value of COMFORT in friendship. Sam didn’t need to entertain me. I did not feel the pressure of unloading all of life on him. Instead, we were content to enjoy deep, heartfelt friendship by simply being with each other. There is deep comfort in our friendship, as is the case in any genuine relationship.
I left Sam and Young Mee’s (and Emmy’s) home refreshed from the simple comfort of being around them. Nothing profound, just life-long, warm friendship at it’s best.
From Denver, I traveled back to my home town of Atlanta, Georgia. . .
Though my few days in Atlanta were primarily filled with work, I did have an off night right at the beginning. As fate would have it, an oft traveled friend was home and invited me over my second night back.
Tim Waddel and I met during an Urbana Conference when we were both in college. Out of 20,000+ people, we were two rooms apart. David Moon and he were friends, so we were introduced and we all hung out much of that week. We were somehow able to (sometimes irreverently) laugh our ways through what for most was a profoundly serious week.
We parted ways, I back to my blessed Georgia Tech and he to some other school.
As the Lord would have it, we both ended up in Asia in the same language program five years later (the spring of 1998; see the above pic). It was there our friendship blossomed and we have been tight since. During those few months, we crammed a ton of basketball on campus together and took an unforgettable trip to Z-Land.
Like Rankin, I don’t think a year has passed without Tim and I having significant time together. Most years it is just a few hours, but they are always rich times of fellowship and challenge.
This year it took the form of takeout from La Parrilla, dinner with his wife Meg, and then chill/talk time on his back porch well into the evening.
Much as has been the case since 1998, we caught up on the details of our lives and professional callings. Tim is living a massively effective, missional life as a marketplace executive. I’m doing the best I know how in Asia.
We shared from the depth of 15+ years of such conversations. We laughed. We advised. We challenged.
We pointed each other towards purpose in life and our walks with our Savior, Christ Jesus.
My evening with Tim on their back porch in suburban Atlanta was indicative of the value of FOCUS in friendship. As is the case with all of my strong friendships, Tim and my relationship ultimately helps me FOCUS on what is important in life.
True friendship keeps you grounded and moving in the direction you are called. My encounter last month with Tim was a time such as this.
So, thinking back on my times this summer with Sam in Denver and Tim in Atlanta, I see they both pointed to larger themes of true friendship. With Sam, the joy of simply “being” in the presence of a man with whom I have truly done life was deeply COMFORTING, as any true friendship will be. With Tim, the purpose and FOCUS of 15 years of friendship was on display.
Lord Jesus, thank you for Sam, TIm, and what I have learned from these men over the years. Please grow in my ability to both COMFORT and bring FOCUS to those around me, by your grace. Thank you for my times with Rankin, Sam, and Tim all this summer in teaching me more about true friendship.
May I grow in my ability and heart to truly befriend those around me here in Asia and beyond.