A friend says to me…“Hey, how ya doin?” I say “Fine, and you?” He, of course, says…“Fine” and adds…“Wife and kids?” I reply…”Oh, they’re doin’ just great!”
What just happened here? Well, he was probably being polite and just acknowledging our friendship, while I was trying not to bore him with all the minutiae of my busy life. So to keep it quick and efficient I gave him the standard, cursory answer – “Fine.” Or was it really that I wanted to hold up the image of the “got-it-all-together” man that I want to appear to be, and not expose any pain or weakness? Or was it that I wanted to be that “un-flappable, die-hard” guy, suck-it-up and not complain about how life’s unfair and it really gets me down sometimes? Maybe it was that I was too busy crossing things off my “To-Do list” to stop and just connect with my friend for just a few minutes. Any way you look at it, I was being friendly but not being a Real Friend.
I’ve been married 28 years to a beautiful, compassionate woman who, if the truth be told, I don’t deserve. After raising three girls, we’re experiencing the empty nest. Are we going to be best friend soul-mates or are we going to retreat to interests we enjoy separately like sports, coffee with friends, fishing, the book club, off-roading, shopping, golf, crafts, volunteering…? What can I do to keep the spark alive in our marriage? Is it worth it? Am I striving for the marriage that God had in mind for us, or am I settling because I don’t like uncomfortable communication? Am I providing an example of marriage to my kids that would glorify the God who included the Song of Solomon as inspired Scripture?Career-wise, along with two partners, I own my own cabinet manufacturing business. It’s tied to the construction industry which is struggling along with a lot of other industries right now. We’ve had to slash expenses and employees, way past the threshold of pain, just to stay afloat. We’re working as hard as we ever have, just to break even or possibly even lose money. I’ve had to face the fact that God’s plan for the future might look different than my plan for the future. Is my “faith” characterized by believing God wants the best for me so he’ll bless my efforts if I commit them to him? Or is it characterized by knowing that God wants the best for me so He’ll bring circumstances into my life that refine my character and show me that He is in control, and I am not? What does it say about me as a provider if I can’t make it happen in my career?
I need Real Friends in my life to ask these questions of me…to see through my pitiful rationalizations and hold me accountable to make the tough choices. Luckily, I have a group I meet with every week that does just this. They know me well enough to see through my smokescreens, my “yeah, but’s,” and my “if you only knew’s”. They apply the Word of God and what God has done in their lives to my life in a way that just takes my breath away. I hope you have that too! If you don’t, Trinity Men’s Ministries has quite a few choices. And if you are in a group now, push past the surface jargon and seek to know and be known. Be vulnerable! Let God use you and you will be blessed indeed! ~ Bruce Humphrey