For my 30th birthday, I was given a gift card to Barnes & Noble from my in-laws. They know that I like reading with my Nook and knew that I would be quite happy with some new reading material. One of the first purchases I made with my birthday loot was Donald Miller’s Father Fiction. In the past, I had read Miller’s Blue Like Jazz and was greatly influenced by his real thoughts about living the Christian life. So, I saw Father Fiction and decided to jump in.
In the course of my reading, today I came upon the chapter on friendship. Spanning no more than a couple of pages in length, the chapter on friendship contained a simple line that stirred something up within me. Miller writes:
We become like the people we hang out with.
Immediately, my brain went into overdrive. I found myself questioning:
- How are my current friendships influencing me?
- Do I surround myself with friends who lift me up or tear me down?
- Are there any friends that are dragging me down/ keeping me from realizing my God-given potential?
I mean, there is nothing wrong with any of the friends I have. None of them are drug dealers or are engaged in questionable moral dealings that would one day lead me to prison. No, the guys I have allowed to speak into my life are solid. Many of them I have known all throughout my formative years. In a way, I am lucky to have guys like this in my life; guys who have seen me at my best and most certainly at my worst. In fact, I have always prided myself on having a “Personal Board of Directors”.
Miller continued the chapter by talking about his intentional recruitment of a group of guys to help him do life with.
A few years ago, I handpicked some guys I wanted to be friends with. I already had some good friends, but knowing you become like the people you hang around, I decided I wanted to take more responsibility for who I was becoming. I looked around and identified about four guys who didn’t know each other very well, but each of whom I wanted to be like in some way. They owned their own businesses, they were faithful to their wives, they were intelligent. I asked each of them if they would get together for breakfast on Tuesday mornings in Portland. To my surprise, each of them said yes. And so we met.
As time and life have marched forward, I have found myself separated by literally over a thousand miles from my some of my board of directors. The guys I grew up with are far away from the small part of Texas I call home. Even though we have the Internet, this has made the “doing life” part of our friendships tough.
In college, I picked up another set of friends to do life with. Guys who enjoyed deep conversations about life and were honest in giving their opinion. Upon graduation, we each went our separate ways. We do, however, still talk on the phone every few months and pick up quite easily. I love friendships like this. My friend Jon (I have many!) told me that this particular group of friends are like lone wolves. Every once in awhile we check back in with the pack but are otherwise trailblazing forward into the greater wilds. I love that rugged mental picture.
I guess where I am going with all of this is that Miller’s chapter on friendship has made me realize that I don’t have a group of guys, locally, to meet up with. If I have learned anything in life it is that finding people that you can be yourself around is hard. Good friends are hard to come by. This is why I treasure my friendships with those that have traveled along the heat-soaked roads of life with me.