Wednesday, April 21, 2010

In Perspective - Friends Are Family We Choose

By Rodney Hays

Edna Buchanan once said, "friends are the family members we get to choose for ourselves." I'm not sure who Edna Buchanan is but I know what good friendship is. Sort of.

This past weekend, my wife and I had the opportunity to see her best friend from her childhood. They hadn't seen each other one time since graduation day a while back. [Editor's Note: Please do not publish the actual date of the high school graduation]. So it was one of those times of severe apprehension. The questions arose: Would we still like each other? Do we have anything in common? Would she also think Ryan Seacrest is one of the best hosts on television and radio? It was very nerve-racking.

My wife, Michelle, and her best friend, Danna, had known each other since grade school. When they were younger, they were pretty much inseparable. The two did everything from sports to summer vacations to 4-H projects together. But then something happened. What? 

Nobody knew for sure.

We sat around for a couple of hours last week wondering, "What went wrong?" We could not think of the answer. So we gave up and made a promise not to dwell in the past but go and meet her old friend as a new friend with tons of things in common.

So this past weekend, we set out for Forth Worth to meet my wife's new "old" friend. We met at a restaurant in the Stockyards area near downtown. Danna met us on the street in front of the restaurant. Danna and Michelle hugged for what seemed like 10 minutes. It was fun to watch. I'm not sure what everyone thought of the guy standing around watching these two hug. But I didn't care; it was their moment.

We hung out with her and her husband for the rest of the evening, drinking some adult beverages, visiting a few Fort Worth honky-tonks, drinking some more adult beverages, closing down Billy Bobs, hanging out with Shawna Russell and the band on their tour bus and passing out in a Fort Worth alley.

Haha. That is a joke. We didn't actually hang with the band.

But the real message here is about friendship.

Friendship is a weird animal. I have had some friends in my life. But it seems after I move away and we try to get together and rekindle those relationships, something awesome seems somehow wrong. But watching these two talk and hug and laugh like they did in high school was good to see.

When our kids were young, we had several friends who we hung out with and shared common interests. Now they are out of the house -- the kids, not our friends -- and because we've moved around a few times since then, it has been difficult to find good friends. My wife and I made a conscious effort to find new friends this year even if it hair-lips the devil. We recently met Jon and Teri, who have become some great friends. Jon is from Oklahoma and grew up very near where a lot of my family still lives. Teri is from New York originally and we spend a lot of time forgiving her for that, because it's really not her fault.

We've only known them a short time, but already they have become great friends that we want to grow old with (Hopefully, we'll be able to teach Teri how to speak "Oklahoman").
Friends are so important. It's like Edna Buchanan said, they really are family members we choose. We were born to be social creatures. We need the type of friendships that Michelle and Danna demonstrated the other night.

Proverbs 17:17 says, "A friend loves at all times." Good friends know everything about you and love you anyway. That's a good thing.

Jesus also talked a little about friendship. But he demonstrated it too. He mingled amongst the multitudes. He ate with the followers. He traveled with his 12 disciples. But when it came time in the Garden of Gethsemane to watch for those who were after him, he took only the three: Peter John and James, his BFFs.

The message is we need to be surrounded by a bunch of good folks that love us -- family, acquaintances, co-workers, etc. -- but we also need a handful of really good friends who love us. Your family loves you because they have too -- most of the time. But your friends love you because they choose to. And sometimes they don't go away easily, so you better choose wisely.

So, to my friends, Danna and Brian and Jon and Teri and the rest of our friends, I appreciate the fact that you are our friends and you love us for who we are. I know that's pretty tough to do with me. But hang in there, because I'll love you for who you are, too.

It also makes me wonder: Did Jesus ever visit Billy Bobs?

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