My Three Amigos
I’m blessed. There’s just no way around it. I have a list of reasons as long and distinguished as Slider’s Johnson, but I’m not going to get into all of them. Instead, I’m just going to focus on the most recent blessing that has received my attention.
As many of you know, Angie and I are hosting an Alpha group this fall (for more, see A is for Alpha). So far, our group has gotten more comfortable each week. That much is easily evident. Last night, however, we made a jump to something more. Leading up to last night, there’d been plenty of good discussion and humor. But the conversation last night led to a few group members revealing more about who they are and how they see their lives. Those revelations are indications that trust is growing. Admittedly, their ideologies and theologies are less important to me at this point than their connection. Ideologies and theologies change over time, they always do. But it’s relationships that lead to change. And it’s an amazing experience as a host to get to watch those relationships begin to form and to be a part of them. I’m already excited for next Sunday night just to see what happens next, where trust and faith and hope lead us.
But the whole evening has me focusing on relationships. I have many and they serve many different purposes in my life. As we all know, not all relationships are created equal – although I try to make sure that I’m always genuine in each relationship, no matter how big or small they may be. Right now, I have three human relationships I rely on to help me determine my path. If you’re using yourself as your navigating point, you’ve got a problem.
- My Wife. Now, if I said that on Oprah, the audience would get a warm fuzzy feeling and give me warm applause and 24K smiles. My hunch is, when it’s read in a blog, a strong percentage of people put on their best Ron Burgandy impersonations and state “I don’t believe you.” Well, believe it. But I’m saving the analysis of this for its own blog entry in the near future. She lovingly deals with me everyday — which should qualify her for some kind of award, I’d think. But more than that, she explores life with me. And isn’t afraid to support me when I’m right, rebuke me when I’m wrong and listen when I need to speak.
- The Compass. So what does a compass do in my life? Well, he’s the guy who has been where I’m at. He’s the guy you don’t feel embarrassed talking to about something because he understands where you’re coming from and knows how to manage the situation and how to get out. Even better, he knows the root causes when my thought life breaks down and recognizes the signs of hope when something good is blooming. He never shames me, just points out where I can improve. But I think what I may value most in him is that he helps me understand how I think, and shows me how that thinking isn’t aligned with the direction I want to go – when he looks at me, he doesn’t see my imperfections – he sees the obstacles to me becoming what I’m to become. An invaluable tool. If you don’t have anyone in your life like this, keep your eyes peeled.
- The Sounding Board. This is the guy that I interact with quite frequently. Often times it’s deep, other times it’s not. I can write 2,000 words on something and get a Dos-Equis-Most-Interesting-Man-in-the-World-esque “No” in response. Other times, we have a dialogue. My sounding board has been in similar places to me and has the same end goals as I do, and we share a lot of the same values. Yet we think very differently and in some ways couldn’t be more opposite. That’s what makes him so valuable as a sounding board. I know he’s going to apply the same principles to my thoughts as I do, but he does it in a different way that really holds me accountable. By the same token, he’s not a commiserater or a co-dependent. He keeps me on my way.
Basically, I’ve given all three of these people access to the inmost places of my mind. In exchange, I expect that they’ll hold me accountable for how I think and how I behave. While that probably sounds scary to many of you, I wish I had more people in my life that exhibit their character. So far, they’re the ones who’ve shown the most integrity, been willing to have the most intimacy and provided the most edification. They challenge the way I think and push me to grow. In short, they reflect light when I’m in the dark. If you don’t have relationships like these, my prayer for you is that you’ll develop them.