the habit of meeting together
Each morning, almost without fail, i see here at the local shop at least one group of men meeting. Sometimes there are two, sometimes more. Sometimes they are older, sometimes younger. Almost universally however, regardless of background, motivation, economic status, or any measurable demographic, they are meeting here to encourage one another in the faith. i have never seen, to my knowledge, men meeting together intentionally to tear one another apart. It seems a rather dull and obvious observation, but whether or not we know it, men need one another if the walk through life is to be successful. Whether it is genuine psychology or just a popular conception, masculinity is often associated with rugged self-reliance and stoic independence. It is the woman, popularly, not the man who asks for directions when lost. i can say with no qualms that i don’t give a hang about common notions of masculinity. i need others in my life. Badly. On my own, i am pretty much inadequate to every task.
When i first moved to Austin, i left almost every friend i had behind in Houston. Granted, it wasn’t too long before i met a few people, mostly through work, but though i got along perfectly fine with them (when i wasn’t being a jerk), one cannot make life-long friends in a day. Those who remained in Houston had been my friends for years: we had gone to school together, and weathered many a storm at each others’ sides. Obviously i did not have this shared history with my new friends, so while for a season they were the people with whom i spent my time, as soon as my work situation changed, so did my friendships. I have changed jobs three times now since moving here, and the number of people from each of those previous jobs with whom i am still in contact is miniscule. it was a very long time before i began to develop connections that were as profound as they had been in my hometown, and when i finally did, i wasn’t even ready for it.
Recently, however, i have been living in quite a wealth of friendships, and interestingly it has only happened because it was not the objective. It is really no trick to make friends when all you care about is making lots of friends. It is another thing entirely for people to treat you as a friend even after you have been deceptive and hurtful to them. As many of you know, there have been some rather rough times in my life, mostly self-inflicted. i had many “friends” during those times, people who i saw every day, hung out with at every opportunity, people who i thought would be in my life forever. Almost none of them are still around. The people who are around, however, are not the ones with whom i was honest, with whom i was “myself” so to speak, but the ones i lied to the most. The ones who were most hurt by my actions. Those who have remained to help clean up the mess. And this is why i feel so blessed.
i have only gratitude in my heart for these few people, and for God’s placement of those people in my life. i would not be making it through this aftermath were it not for the support of my true friends, the ones who, for whatever reason, loved me in spite of my faults. They have truly shown me what it means to love others as they love themselves. It is no fault to be in need of brothers in this life, nor to admit that need. It is, in fact, a strength to be able to confess that alone we are insufficient. After all, the only thing in creation that God said was “not good” was for man to be alone. The next step in this process, now that i have been so richly blessed by others, is for me to smash that sponge dry; to take all of the love that i have been fortunate to soak up in the last few years and squeeze it back over those who gave it to me. Only then will they truly be my brothers.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. – Hebrews 10 : 24 – 25