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It was the summer of 1994. I headed off to begin my life as an adult. College bound, it seemed so hard to believe. For the first time in my life I was on my own, as on your own as you can be when your parents are still paying your bills. Over the next several years I would make acquaintances that would turn into friendships that would last a life time. I met some great people, but there are two friends that I truly call the best friends that I have had. The funny thing is, we didn’t get to know each other well until our sophomore year. Tim, Gene, and I were three very different people. Gene was from Michigan, Tim was from Illinois, and I was from Nashville. We had different family backgrounds, liked different sports teams. Tim and Gene were roommates in Ennis Hall, and I lived in Goen Hall. I ended up in their room, to study philosophy together, and we just hit it off. That summer Tim and I shared a room together and worked campus security. It was a great summer. As I look back on it there are so many good memories that the three of us shared together. We had our first apartment together. Tim introduced me to my wife. Those years were some of the happiest times in my life.
There are times now that I sit back and reflect on our friendship over the years. Times that still make me laugh (Sociology class). I can see these memories so vividly in my mind. How we use to do donuts in the Church of Christ parking lot when it snowed in the infamous TimFrg2. I remember how Gene and I had the same year and model car, a 1986 Toyota Corolla, his was silver, mine was maroon. I remember how mad Tim would get in our apartment when Gene would find his stash of Swiss Cake Rolls. When Tim mishit his drive at Mccabe golf course, got mad and went to run and kick his golf ball and slid down a muddy hill. And then there were all of the shenanigans with the water balloon slingshot. There are so many memories. There were times I wanted to kill them. We talked, and laughed, and pretty much did everything together. Over the years I have stowed away a treasure chest full of memories that will be with me till the day I die.
In those days we had so many wonderful times, but that is not what makes a person a good and dear friend. See, there is a difference. The best of friends are there for the fun times, the good times, but are also there when times are tough. A couple of months ago I got word that Gene was having serious heart trouble, and the initial diagnosis was that it was not looking good. I am not to afraid to admit that I wept and prayed for my friend that night. In my darkest hour after Mom died, at her funeral, I stayed in the back till just before the funeral started. It was just my wife and me. I was looking at the picture collage we had of Mom and wiping the tears from my eyes. As I turned I looked, and out in the parking lot, there came my Friend Tim. All the way from Ohio. He gave me a big hug, and it meant the world to me that he was there. We have had some good times, and some tough times, and one of the great things is we have been there for all our highs and lows together.
Facebook reminded me today that Tim and I had been friends together on Facebook for nine years. Nine years is a long time, but sorry Facebook, Tim Gene, and I are going on twenty-three years now. There are numerous stories that I could tell to further illustrate our friendship, but this is about more than just the good times we had, and the shenanigans we pulled. I sat down to write this weeks post when I saw Facebook’s reminder, and it made me reflect on what a tremendous gift it is to have friends like Tim and Gene.
One of the greatest earthly gifts that God has given us is the gift of friendship. Everyone needs someone they can truly be themselves with. People who will lift you up and call you out. As I get older I often sit back and reflect on the time that has passed. I will be forty-two in a little over a week, and as I reflect on the last twenty-three years I can honestly say there are things that I wish I had done differently. There are some decisions I have made that I wish I could have back. There are a lot of good things as well. One of the things that always brings a smile to my face is remembering all the good times that the Tim, Gene, and I have had, as well as the times when we were hurting and were there for each other. When I think of this, I am reminded of how the writer of Proverbs tells us that friends will love each other always, but it is through adversity we find our brothers. That is what Tim and Gene are. They are my brothers. They are part of my family.
I hope that you have someone that you can lean on. Someone that you can carry your burdens to. Someone who will do extremely stupid things that make you laugh. Who will do things that infuriate you one day but turn into priceless treasures the next. If not, there is still time. Seek a friendship like this. Find someone who will shoot bars of soap at you while you are doing night watch. Find someone who will make hats out of t-shirt sleeves with you. Who will walk by a class that you were forced to go to by your girlfriend and laugh and wave at you through the window as they are skipping it. If you find someone to make those memories with, you will also find someone to weep with you when you are broken. To pray with you, when you need answers. To pray for you when there doesn’t seem to be hope. Yes, Friendship is indeed one of the greatest earthly gifts that God has given us.
P.S. If this made you think of your friend, pick up the phone and call them. Cherish every moment you have with them.