On June 1st my wife and best friend (thankfully the same person) threw a party for me and my daughter. This year was a milestone year for each of us as I turned 40 and my daughter turned 16. The party was great and went off without a hitch. It was not a surprise party, and that was primarily because there was simply no way to get me to believe that I was climbing up and down a ladder so many times hanging decorations just because the pole barn could use a little “dazzle”.
My wife put a lot of thought into this party, and I really appreciate that even more now that it is over. Not because it is behind me, but because of some of the things the party required of me. She’s very smart, and her plans are almost always spot on! Here are some of her plans that took me out of my “zone”.
1. Tom does not get to grill. – Seriously. Guys, do you hear how crazy that sounds? The grill is my favorite place to be at a party. It puts me at the edge of things where I get to watch how things are going while not being forced to be in the middle of it all. I will always have a few people to talk to, but I get to be in my comfort zone. Besides, I just love grilling! What more fun can a man have at a party than running a grill? It is so much better than “working the crowd”.
2. Tom must work the crowd. – Yes. Not only do I not get to do what I want, I now get to do what I don’t want to do. Let me be clear. It’s not that I don’t like people. I get along with just about anyone, and I like to meet people and talk to them. My problem is crowds. I avoid them when possible, and when I have no choice I prefer to stick to the sides. Part of why I like the grill. At least it is just a party. I know everyone here and we are just having fun. At least I don’t have to get up in front of everyone.
3. Tom has to get up in front of everyone. – A big part of this party was a time for people to tell us something to encourage us. People went one at a time and told a story about us or said something they really appreciated about us. It was kicked off by my best buddy, Ray, and he did a great job. There were several really nice tributes given, and I was actually fighting to keep my eyeballs from leaking a few times!
After we finished that part and we started eating, I was back to working the crowd. I was talking with one friend and he said something that stuck with me, “Look around here. Do you ever wonder what you did in your 40 years to end up with this many friends?” I said that looking at the crowd it must have been something I did in the last 4 years because most of the people there I had known for less than four years.
The question has stuck with me though. What is it about the last four years? Looking back I have always had people I got along with and enjoyed doing all kinds of stuff with them. Some of those memories are just fun, happy, or “Hey, watch this!” moments, but knowing what I know now there aren’t very many memories of what I now call real friendship. A lot of good acquaintances, but not many real, deep, transparent, intentional friendships. Why not?
About four years ago we switched churches. Not long after that I was asked to join a group of men in a study that was designed to help us figure out why we are the way we are and then challenge us to grow in our relationships with our wives, kids, and with other men. In that group I met Ray. You could say the rest is history. We became fast friends as we shared life. As time went on we got into other studies with other men. Through those and small groups I met more. Eventually I ended up with a group of people I have shared life with. That was why I had people there to spend our day with us.
I’m still learning this friend thing. I mess it up from time to time, but I am definitely getting better. It takes time. You have to step out of your comfort zone and enter into someone else’s life. You have to be transparent even though it might get you hurt sometimes. You have to sacrifice what you want to be a blessing to someone else. You have to take time to listen to others. You have to BE a friend.
That wife of mine is a pretty sharp gal. She was just helping me the whole time.
In HIS Grip,
PS – I know I have not been here for a while now. Too much life has been happening. We are finally looking at a little bit of a slow down, and it could not have come at a better time. I might have to do a blog on 101 ways to overextend yourself! I plan to get back to a regular schedule again now. Thanks for those who read, and I appreciate your feedback!