Wednesday, April 25, 2012

He Got A Friend

I’m back! So let’s just be honest, so far this blogging experience has been a total fail. I made one post, which wasn’t even about anything other than declaring the fact that I was going to start blogging, and then I haven’t been heard from since. I was ready to just hang it up and pretend that one blog post had never happened, but this is this internet, and that stuff is out there forever. I’ve already crossed the line into the “blogosphere” and I can’t go back. I tried to squirm my way out, but I found myself pulling a Jack Shephard at the end of Season 3 of Lost and yelling at Kate “We have to go back!!!" Now….just pretend Kate was Jen Campbell, there was 1,000 times less drama and it was more like her calmly encouraging me to try another post. Let’s be honest, she probably didn’t even care if I did or didn’t, but I’m going to keep playing this “I’m not a blogger, I hate blogging, people keep forcing me to do it” card and hoping that no one notices that I actually just really enjoy writing. So, either way, thanks to the wonderful Jennifer Campbell and the rest of the exclusive Cheetahs for giving me the nudge to jump back on the keyboard.

I did a little thinking about why I skipped out on my blogging duties for the past two months and why I have been so reluctant to put any thoughts or stories out on the World Wide Web. It really doesn’t make sense; you would think I would be all about it. I mean, I will sit at a kitchen table over a cup of decaf coffee (preferably Dunkin Donuts) and tell you stories and talk about life all night, until you beg for me to be quiet so you can go to sleep. I write these long e-mails filling my friends in on my life and my thoughts and my theories to the point where they have to be sending them to their junk mail folder. I even love to write and have the evidence shoved in a notebook somewhere to prove it! With all that said, something about blogging had rubbed me the wrong way a little bit. I guess I just always felt a little too “self-promotional” if I had my own blog. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE other people’s blogs, e-mails, updates, calls and notes. I love hearing about all of you. I eat it up, so keep it coming. Don’t stop.

But for me, I just hit this spot where I realized how selfish I was and how concerned I was with my own thoughts and needs. I needed to talk about myself less, not more, so starting a blog was the last thing I wanted to do. But I thought, well it couldn’t hurt to guest blog a little for Chelcie. I’ll keep it short. I’ll keep it simple. I’ll keep it light. By the way, in just two posts I have already managed to fail miserably at all of those things. But I thought, Hey…i’ll just throw out a few funny stories and go from there. Well here’s what happened, I sat down to write each week and I couldn’t think of one funny story to share. Not one. Call it part of getting old and washed up, (I turn 24 very soon ya know!) but I’m running out of stories and I’m running out fast. I’m telling em way faster than I’m making em these days. (Quick side note: I am currently accepting applications for a story-making intern….the only qualification is that you get us into spots where lots of stories will happen to us. In return….well I’m still working on that.) So for real, I sat down and tried to be funny, and all that came out was really serious thoughts. Once again, the “24” syndrome hits….I think about serious things way, way too often. For a guy who used to slide by with a boat and a standup bit about sand, this is a problem! But I think I have the solution. My friends have always been way cooler than me. I like to say, and it’s true, that God just blessed me by putting me around the craziest and most incredible cast of characters. I mean seriously, there should be movies made about some of these folks. The stories have always been about them anyways. All the good in me has come from them, well from God of course, but through them. So here’s the plan…I’m gonna get a little serious on you from time to time…but I’ll make myself feel better about it by talking about my friends more than myself to start. So…now that the way-too long explanation of where I have been is done, let’s roll.

I’ve got a friend. (Hence the blog title, feel free to throw on “She Got a Friend” by Gucci Mane for the remainder of this post.) His name is Kevin Underwood. Many of you know him. I had about 2 pages worth of stories where I was going to brag on him, but I’m going to have to save those for another time because I’ve already caused half the readers to stop reading with the intro the size of a textbook. What I will do is share something he taught me about God, which he always seems to be doing.

I have a little theory, not a unique one, that the Gospel is so powerful it just bleeds into every aspect of life. It bleeds into art and music and literature and science and culture. No good story, no matter if they are based in Christianity or not, can be good without the roots of the gospel stuck in them. Most don’t realize it, but it’s always there. The gospel certainly bleeds into our relationships. Any good relationship possesses gospel attributes at it’s core. If we believe that we are created in God’s image, we have to believe that his fingerprints will be all over the way we interact with each other, right? Vice versa, we have to believe that our relationship and interaction with him would posses all the best and purest traits of our human relationships right? His love somehow captures the affection and relentless love of parenthood, the rawness and jealousy and passion of romantic love, and of course the innocence, comfort, honesty and pure joy of a great friendship.

There is something so exciting to me about seeing God show up in friendships, because I have been so blessed with such great ones. For those who don’t know, C.S. Lewis is my absolute favorite author. He has this incredible way of describing something I feel or know in a way that is better than I ever could have said on my own. He almost draws something out of me that I only knew subconsciously before. As I read him, I will often look up and say “Oh my gosh, that’s exactly how I feel, but I never could have told you before now!” Never has this been more true than when he describes friendship in an incredible essay in the book, The Four Loves. He basically talks about how all truly great friends have what he calls “A Secret Thread.” They essentially have something; a similar passion, idea, hardship, longing, secret or mistake, that binds them together. It could really be best described as a kindred spirit. You both see the same truth, you both have the same vision, and a friendship is born. Instantly, you separate from the masses and stand together in immense solitude as friends.

“Lovers seek for privacy. Friends find this solitude about them, this barrier between them and the herd, whether they want it or not. They would be glad to reduce it, the first two would be glad to find a third…. All who share [something in common] will be our companions; but one or two or three who share something more will be our Friends. In this kind of love, as Emerson said, ‘Do you love me?’ means ‘Do you see the same truth?’…Hence we picture lovers face to face but friends side by side; their eyes look ahead.”

Me and Kevin have this “Secret Thread.” I can’t even pinpoint what the thread is, it’s somewhat mysterious, but I absolutely feel it and I know it’s strong. Every time we talk, every time we are together, I feel like we are on the same journey. I feel like our eyes are focused and towards the same star in the distance. We “see the same truth.” I can just feel it. I wish I could explain it better, but you will just have to settle for reading The Four Loves.

What I can explain a little better, is what Kevin taught me about God, and then I will wrap it up, I promise! One day, I set out to thinking about how Kevin and I became the best of friends. Our relationship matches up perfectly with everything Lewis mentions about great friendships, but how did we get there? It honestly kind of just appeared out of thin air. Looking back, it feels ordained.

Lewis says the beginning of friendship goes something like this “What? You too? I thought I was the only one!”  I like to call it the “Step-Brother” moment. You are just kind of rolling along and then Bam! It hits you. You realize this guy likes building bunkbeds and doing karate in the garage just as much as you and you yell “DID WE JUST BECOME BEST FRIENDS!?!?!?” I remember clearly the night I really thought to myself, “Wow, Kevin Underwood is one of my best friends…how did that happen?” And I realized, there was no trick, we just put in some serious mileage. We spent tons and tons and tons of quantity time together and every once and while, the quality time just bubbled up. The more quantity we had, the more the quality showed up. That’s how our friendship started, and that’s why Kevin is such a good friend….he was always there.

Kevin’s true friendship came into my life during the toughest season I’ve gone through. All of my best friends had moved off to other states and cities, I was trying to make the transition from being in college to working 80 hours a week, my heart had just been broken and I was lonely. And you know what? I didn’t need someone to tell me it was going to be ok. I didn’t need someone to make a plan to fix it all. I didn’t need someone to feel sorry for me. I just needed someone to be with me. I needed someone to just eat lunch with me and talk about sports with me and draw up crazy hopeless schemes to meet some wonderful girl or start a million dollar business. And that’s exactly what Kevin did. He just kind of showed up and didn’t leave. We must have eaten 10/14 lunches and dinners a week for three straight months. He was just there. And of course, he was there when I felt like talking about something serious and vice versa.

I think that’s how friendship works. You can’t force the intentionality. It has to grow. The famous words you hear in our circle of friends is “Let’s just be really intentional with each other this year.” Don’t lie, every house you’ve lived in has said it. Every small group you have been in has said it. And it’s good, I am all for being intentional, but I just don’t think it works like that….at least it doesn’t for me. You can’t just sit down with someone during a 15-20 minute block every day and say Ok, tell me something deep. Tell me something meaningful.” It just doesn’t happen. You have to put in serious mileage with someone and then just let the quality stuff come when it’s ready to come. You all have great friends, you know its true…it will come if you are just around and you are patient and you are ready to listen. Nine times out of Ten you end up hearing about Basketball but the tenth time will come and you will hear “Hey this has been killing me lately, and I don’t know what to do.” And then before you know it, the 9 out of 10 drops to like 5 out of 10. And that’s friendship.

And you know what else, that’s a relationship with God. I want so badly to just sit down for X amount of time every morning and say “Ok God, I’m here…talk to me!” I want to just show up to church every Sunday and feel his presence move in the greatest way possible every single week. But you know what…it doesn’t happen, and I get frustrated and I start to complain, “God, where are you? I’m making the time!” That’s exactly what I was saying a month or two ago, “God where are you?”…and then I thought about me and Kevin’s humble beginning to our friendship, and I laughed. I would never sit down with Kevin and complain… “Hey man, you haven’t told me anything deep in like 2 weeks, what’s the deal?” The truth is, we rarely go two weeks without talking about anything deep because the quantity of time we spend together is so large.

So that’s what I learned, and that’s the takeaway of this way-too long blog post. Put in mileage with God. Keep Him on your mind more often. Find more time to be in the word. Find more times to worship. Find more time to immerse in the Gospel. You have to taste it, feel it, see it. You can’t just think it. Every time won’t be as quality as the last but He will show up. The beauty is, he will show up even when you don’t put enough mileage in….but I bet there will be more fruit if you do.

And you know what, do the same thing with your friends. Find more time together. Eat together, do homework together, drive to school together. Alone time is good too, but I want maximize the windows where a quality conversation might bubble up and a friend says “Hey I haven’t really brought this up before, but…” or “I know I keep talking about this, but…” and you can listen and then respond and then say Bam! “I think we just became best friends!” over and over again.

Hey, thanks to my friends for being as great as you are. Thanks be to God, for anything that is good is from Him. And thanks to the one or two people that may have miraculously read this entire thing. If you did, you crazy! Maybe we should become best friends? Kevin and I got a spot for you….

-Tyler Morris

P.S. I promise I will post next week and I promise it will be short. Scouts Honor.

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