There is a beautify that comes from living with good friends over many years. A rhythm develops and a give-and-take grows from weekly interactions, soulful conversations and an ongoing, loving dialogue. You get to know each member very well and they, in turn, get to know you. They can see when you are struggling. They can help you prepare when the dark clouds form on the horizon. They stand beside you when parenting is hard. They are present during surgeries, illness and family funerals. They love you through the painful days in ways no one else can.
And they can share in your hopes, dreams, joys and celebrations. They relish in your successes. They are present when babies are born. They cheer when graduations occur. They sing at the tops of their lungs during birthday parties.
They are good friends walking with you along this path of life.
I’m am so happy that I am able to reap the benefits of this relational treasure. But with the benefit comes a responsibility that to the members of your group and the generations that will follow.
The picture on the left is from May 2006. It reveals the men of our group and young Elliott, then 10 years old, as we volunteered at a local women’s shelter. That day we moved wood, cleaned trash piles and gave sweat and blood to the project. In short, we all spent a fun morning doing hard work that made a difference. Elliott is now 18 years old. He donates his time to the church. He travels on missions trips. He engages the community. He is a productive member of society. And we were a small part of that journey to adulthood.
The picture on the right was taken last night (July 5, 2013). Javier is eight. He is funny, energetic, and creative. The men in our group engage him in conversation, ask him questions about his life and love him like a son. There is no way for us to know what he will be ten years from now. But we do know that it is our responsibility to stand with him, to love him, to guide him along that path and into adulthood.
Over our many years together, our group has helped raise Eli, Abby, Jonathan and Emily. Most recently, we’ve loved Benjamin and Elliott to adulthood. But we aren’t done. We still need to hug on and pray for Claire, Hannah, Javi and Mia. The youngest members of our troupe, Audry and Wesley are just learning what it means to be a part of this odd mix of extended family: Aunts and Uncles that are not in their blood line but love them as if they were. And with each passing year we will find new ways to engage, love and care for these blessed charges as we continue to engage, love and care for each and every member of our group.
May God continue to give us wisdom, patience and love as we live out this incredible responsibility, this amazing challenge, and this awesome opportunity.