Archives For friendship

On Friday I received a text from one of my closest buddies informing me that Stacy, one of my college friends, had committed suicide. I was immediately overcome with emotion – a whole bucket full of sobbing, cursing, shouting, and stunned silence to boot. Frankly, there were brief moments where I was inconsolable. Something was breaking in me. Indeed, the depth of anguish and sorrow was so profound that there were times I even wondered where it was coming from. But here are my thoughts.

Stacy and me circa 1990

I’ve said many times that the greatest gift I ever received from Baylor were the friendships formed over those four years in Waco. For me, that brief chapter in life was almost magical. It seemed the bonds of friendship were formed quickly our first semester as freshmen. This gaggle of kids who were trying to figure out who they were and who they wanted to be immediately connected; we ate lunches together, took road trips, opened God’s Word and prayed for each other, danced with each other at various formals and local honky-tonks, always stopped to talk if we saw another of us walking around campus, and even a few shared brief romances that we reflect upon with more fondness than embarrassment. We laughed a lot, spoke of spiritual things, and offered our shoulder for those who needed to shed a tear or two.

Stacy was firmly fixed within the constellation of those friendships, almost as a sister we wanted to protect. Our sophomore year she even moved to the apartment complex that we guys had chosen so she could be with us. Maybe she felt we would protect her as well. Truth is we would have done anything for Stacy. Everyone loved her because she embodied the best of what those friendships looked like – a godly woman, a godly friend. She just joined in with everyone else as we learned how those kinds of friendships could be formed.

To look back on those times is to be awash with a little nostalgia and quite a bit of melancholy where one hearkens for the “good ole days” when life was simple, beautiful, and innocent. Sure, it might’ve been a little on the naïve side – it is college – but those relationships were sincere, hopeful, spiritual, and powerful enough to leave an impression on me for what defines real, godly friendships. In fact, it’s almost darn near ruined me ever since.

So it’s possible that in my mind’s eye I want to keep those years at school and the people I loved in them untouchable. I felt like in those friendships I was given a masterpiece painting, something priceless and rare, a possession many would want but few would ever find. It was so meaningful I have hung it high above on the mantle of my heart where it would serve to inspire me and drive me to better friendships in life. In way, Stacy represented not only a dear friend but the grace of best kind of friendships.

So when I got word that she committed suicide it felt as if someone or something drew a big black mark across the canvas. The beautiful and good was disfigured and marred. It was a tragic way to be reminded that the brokenness of sin sinks its claws into everything. And that you don’t get to keep anything for yourself that isn’t protected from its reach. The darkness not only assaults your present but can assail your past. Thus, Stacy’s death felt tragic to me…and in me. Something was stolen from me, and it’s not coming back this side of Jesus’ return. That’s my best guess on why I feel this so deeply.

And that won’t change any time soon because this does strike me in my core. The pillars have shaken and there may be a few cracks within. For all the goodness and grace in which those friendships shaped, taught, and blessed me over the years, it only makes sense that when we lose one of us we also lose a little bit of ourselves. That just might be what this is: a losing of Stacy and a little bit of me.

I love you Stacy. Kyrie Eleison.

Wrinkles on My Facebook

October 21, 2008 — 2 Comments

A few years ago I began a Facebook account at the behest of some college students from a university where I had a speaking engagement. They were into it big time and wanted me to join the fun. So I jumped in and since then have connected with quite a few people. Some I know very well while others I have little to no clue who they are. But a highlight amongst all the growing number of Facebook “friends” is reconnecting with those who truly were friends of mine during different seasons of my life that I have simply lost track of through the years. Many are from my days at Baylor and still others go further back…high school, many of them I’ve known almost all of my life.

As I’ve reacquainted myself with my peers of days gone by I’m actually starting to believe something that most of our culture would consider unthinkable: there’s a beauty in getting older. Yup, you heard me correctly. There’s something really attractive about aging. I know, I know, when you’re in your late 30’s often your hair starts to turn grey (or in some cases turns loose), you are probably a little (or a lot) heavier than you want to be and you’ve got lines around your eyes that make you feel 50 whenever you see yourself smile in a photograph. But the beauty that comes across to me is more than skin deep. In fact, it’s all the “imperfections” that the years bring upon the body that strikes me as endearing.

I wouldn’t argue that there may come a day when I cross into an age where I don’t feel this way, but for now, as I glance across the images of those who are my friends from childhood up to my college years the only thing I feel is a warm heart. We don’t look like kids anymore and we shouldn’t. I’m starting to think I really like the “adult” versions of the friends I’ve played hide-and-go-seek with, cheered alongside at Bulldog Stadium or had long talks with in front of Pat Neff Hall. Sure, most of them don’t look like they used to but for many, the physical changes over time also mirrors the changes they’ve experienced on the inside as they matured and find themselves moving through the thick of life. And for some reason, I think it looks pretty good on them.

Okay…most of them. 😉