How friends shape who we become.
This past weekend was a special one. No, not because it was Easter. Don’t misunderstand me, Easter is always special all on it’s own. No, this weekend was special because it was one of those times in life when everything just kind of slows down and we can enjoy the world moving around you. This past weekend I had the chance to perform the wedding for two of my childhood friends.
As weddings go, it was especially beautiful. The bride was a vision of loveliness and the groom was in complete adoration of her. The flowers were at their fullest floral majesty. The cake was sweet and delicious; however, that doesn’t mean a whole lot coming from me because I think all cakes are delicious.
But those weren’t the best parts. As incredible as that cake was, the company it was shared with was even better. It was a reunion of people that I grew up with united in our affection for the bride and groom. The room rang with people laughing and talking with each other, reminiscing on stories and memories from our small town.
Seeing those people all gathered together in one place for the first time in a long time made me reflect on the role they had in my life. There was the person who first taught me how to tie a knot. And there was the person who first taught me the story of Joshua and the Walls of Jericho. And right behind them was the person who first mentioned to me that I would make a fairly decent pastor some day.
But while many of these people were, for me, my elders and older than I am, I also saw peers that had shaped my life. I saw some of the groomsmen that had helped instill in me confidence to chase this calling. I saw friends from my church’s youth group that had engaged in discussions that molded my faith and helped develop what would become foundational for my life. I needed them to come to this point in my life. We all need those people that we recognize as companions and guides along our journeys.
Even Paul, the great apostle who helped spread the Christian faith across a Sea, had those he trusted to help guide him. He valued the presence of a companion in Barnabas until a personnel dispute split their paths (Acts 15: 38-41), and afterwards relied on Silas to continue his mission. The Christian life is not meant to be spent in exclusion. Sure, there are times when solitude may be desired or needed, but there had to be a reason for Jesus to choose the constant company of others, right?
While we are each created for a purpose and a calling, much of how we find that calling depends on those around us. Very few times in life are we able to discern the road ahead of us without the perspective of others. Whether they are respected elders or trusted friends, words of guidance and aid cannot be overvalued. Often, the signs and portents we pray for are already ahead of us in the faces and voices of those we surround ourselves with. Too often we abandon those who have helped us in our pasts, the mentors and guides, because we figure their service to us is over. But just as they helped us then, so they can aide in our growth and in our journey now.