Lil’ Help from our Friends

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Years ago, when our boys were little, we had a small community of friends that gathered in our home for several years. One evening, our oldest (three at the time) asked, in eager expectation, whether our friends were coming over. “Yes,” I answered. “Why do you like having them here?”

My son paused only a moment. “Because they love us. And they help us fight the dragons.”

In the years previous and the years since, I’m not sure I’ve heard a better definition of friendship than this one from my three-year-old. Friends (true friends) love the person we are, not the person they imagine we are or the person we pretend to be. Friends clasp arms with us as together we swing at the darkness.

I’ve often wondered what the future will reveal about how we’ve raised our sons, how we’ve done with our hopes to help them become good men who live good lives. I wonder if our meandering efforts will prove enough to help them take their good place in this topsy-turvy world. I will tell you this, though: the friends who have been in our life (thus, the friends who have been in their lives) will play a larger role in all this than most of us imagine.

When I think about how I hope to love my sons along the path toward becoming their true selves, my mind turns to the people they are blessed to encounter. There’s Tom, the master carpenter, who takes us into his shop with the massively cool racks of hand tools and takes us for walks in the woods surrounding his land, all of which exudes presence, attentiveness and respect for craft and place. There’s Corey and Juli, who’ve loved them since the day each of them came squealing into this world. There’s Debbie who asks tender, meaningful questions, provoking care and curiosity. There’s John, the poet, who sits at the kitchen table for games of Farkle and carries delight in how our boys are full-on boys, delighting too in how they are becoming men (but not yet, not yet). There’s Raul who gives them hugs and kisses on the cheek, as he does each of us each time he arrives, then pulls out his guitar for a jam session or pulls from his days as a coffee roaster and teaches my sons the art of the single pour. These friends are merely a sample – and on top of grandparents, uncle and aunts, so much love. We have so many good people in our lives, so many gifts. So many teachers.

John Lennon said he got by with a little help from his friends. We all do.

9 Replies to “Lil’ Help from our Friends”

  1. This comes in anticipation of my dear, true friend passing away 20 years ago. My heart still aches for her and the wonderful balm is….words from a distant, unknown friend and his son.

    Bless you and thank you so much.

  2. We were gathered around the dinner table a few nights ago with dear friends of 35 years. Delightfully refreshing on a summer night eating outside for over 3 hours & embracing who they are & being loved for who we are. A gift!

    We love & value our grown kids & grands more than any of you will ever comprehend until you are in the last leg of life. Then you’ll reminisce & wish you had grasped the depth of that love. I miss my parents everyday & experience some sorrow & shame. They deserved better from me. It’s the cycle of life I suppose – the cycle of life.

    1. yes, we have marvelous family (the “so much love” I mentioned) in addition to the gift of great friendships. This piece was simply about the friendships. Glad you know those great friendships too – 35 years is really something.

  3. Winn thank you for this. I am asking myself why isn’t my life as fulfilling as yours seems to be-friendship wise, that is. I’m a kind, gentle person, introverted but not shy and people generally like me, but I’ve always had a hard time sustaining friendships. People generally call me when their in some sort of crisis. I’m a calming influence. But in between those crisis times I’m very lonely. I’m going to spend some time with the Lord and ask Him. Usually when I’m feeling very lonely due to life situations the only answer that comes is that He wants me to be closer to Him. Those times are good, but they are more the norm for me. God has different plans for us all. I just feel a little like something is lacking when I read stories like this. Not begrudging you at all, I am so thankful for how God is leading in your life. still…. The emptiness remains for me. Me and Jesus are delightful, but I’d sure like to have some Jesus with skin on sometimes. Yes I have chronic depression and I’m sure that interferes. Blessings, Joyce

    1. Hello, Joyce. I’m so glad you wrote. You know, this is only one slice of the story – a very true slice but still not the whole. I too have wrestled for long seasons of loneliness. Friendship, even the best ones, go through seasons of funk or estrangement – and even when they are well, they are never enough to equal my desire. I hope for the renewal of a friendship for you, for fresh light.

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