Thursday, January 29, 2015

Friendships and Growth

Now, having friends of the opposite sex is a completely different story.  The movie WHEN HARRY MET SALLY... presented that it was impossible for men and women to be friends without sex getting in the way.  As a Christ-follower, I follow a different path, where sex will not get into the picture unless marriage comes first, and since marriage is supposed to only happen once in a lifetime, 'til death do they part, the sex part isn't even on the RADAR in most friendships.  But that's just me.

My parent's first house, in Riverdale, MD, was my first home, and we lived there until I was four.  The family who lived next door had a little girl who was a year older than me, but, since we were all we had, she and I were friends.  That may have been the start of my love affair with female friends.  I've had a lot of female friends over the years, true, dyed-in-the-wool friendships,  I've mentioned here in the blog about Alice, who was Marty's sister.  Marty was my best friend for many years, but Alice usurped him when it became apparent that Marty and I were drifting apart.  Alice and I were great friends, and we had many great conversations.  Yes, I did fall in love with her, but I didn't tell her until after she was engaged to someone else.  Our friendship survived, and I wish I could say that she and my wife, Teresa, became friends, too, but distance was always a factor in maintaining a close friendship, and it just isn't right being friends with someone who is married to someone else.

I was fortunate that Teresa had a gang of really great friends, and after her death, they became my friends.  The best part of these types of friendships is that they don't have any kind of romantic tension that may exist in relationships where there is mutual attraction.  These wonderful ladies have looked after me and my daughter, Melody, which I believe is their way of honoring Teresa's memory.  We all get together every Christmas for a little party, and even after a couple of them got married and started families, we continue to get together, including all of the newer members of our gang.  We don't always see eye to eye on things, but it's nice knowing we all have Teresa in common, and that is the bond we'll always have.

Some really great friendships developed from my time as a youth counselor.  Lisa was a youth director with a military background, and her out-going personality balanced well with my introvertedness, creating a dynamic that I believe led us to have a thriving youth program.  Lisa was more than willing to take the lead on so many aspects of running that ministry, which let me be me, the background guy and planner.  Throw in two more individuals on our team, Scott, who was the disciplinarian, and Diana, who was the runner and quiet assistant to Lisa, and we had a great leadership team.  Lisa and Diana (and Scott) continue to stay in touch, even though we have all moved on to different areas of the country.  I think what was important in our relationships with each other is how we were able to exhibit that friendship to the kids in the youth group.  They saw four adults who were loving to one another, in a Christ-like way, who not only were great role models (in my opinion), but were respectful, decent, supportive friends to each other.  We worked so well with each other, that when Lisa decided to move to a new church, the rest of us went with her, and we took over the leadership of the youth group at the new church and it prospered.  That was a case of God really showcasing His will, and the success of that program was all to His glory.  And it didn't work without those friendships.

I mentioned yesterday how much I've struggled with maintaining friendships in the time since my wife's death, and my desire to perhaps find my niche at my church.  I'm convinced that the church is where I need to look to find those true friendships and connections.  I think, if my history as a youth counselor is any indication, that this may be where I'll look.  With my daughter entering middle school next year, I feel like this may be a logical area of growth for not just Melody, but maybe for me, as well, and I plan to volunteer to help with the youth group however they want to use me.  And maybe a few friendships with the other adults involved with the youth program will develop.  That's what I'm praying for.

Have a great evening, everyone!