“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, ESV)”
We just opened signups for the 2015 90-Day Challenge. The process of putting this community together has caused me to think deeply about friendship. Friendship is an endangered species these days. Men are in constant competition with other men, needing to earn more, lift more, or shoot more game than their buddies in order to feel valid. Women often measure themselves against other women, sensing the need to look better, or have a better-decorated home, than their friends. This inner performance-narrative doesn’t work – it’s impossible to genuinely love the people we need to outcompete in order to feel good about ourselves.
Friendship is something we can’t afford to strangle. We spend our days with strangers, acquaintances, colleagues, and recreational buddies. We often wear different hats with each of these different groups, carrying out the roles we’re expected to carry out. This is appropriate, but the nature of these relationships leaves us with a unique need – to be known for who we truly are. This is the need our friends meet. Our friends expect us to take off all our hats. I recently returned from a fly-fishing trip with my friend Jeff. Jeff has seen me when I’m witty and when I’m dull. He’s seen me be a good husband and father, and he’s seen me be less than my family deserves. He’s seen me dance on the mountaintop with Jesus, and he’s seen me struggle to find a foothold in the valley. He’s seen my good, bad, and ugly. And I have seen the same three sides of Jeff. After twenty-two years of friendship, the only things we do not see are hats. There is no pretending, posturing, or presenting a certain image. We just fish, hunt, laugh, cry, talk, and at times, challenge each other from the Scriptures to be more like Jesus. Our friendship is as organic as the tomatoes that are turning red in my garden. Here’s a video from our recent fly-fishing trip to WY:
Loneliness often arises from the idea that life is found in independence. It’s not. That idea is a lie. Life is found in interdependence. I don’t care how long your beard is, how much you bench press, or what your tattoos look like—if you are a human being, you were made by God to be dependent upon others. We need Jesus. We need our local church. We need our spouse. And we need our friends. And until we recognize this, and stop seeing our need for others as a weakness, or a non-masculine trait, we will persist in our loneliness.The man without a community of friends is traveling the rugged road of isolation. Think being alone is tough? It’s not. It’s wimpy. There’s nothing noble or manly about that trail… yet some will walk it to the grave. Others will see the warning signs, pull off the path, and choose a different route – the way of friendship. And friendship… well, that is tough stuff. It’s the only way for men to be truly strong.
Do you enjoy hunting & fishing? Join the 90-Day Challenge community by visiting www.inpursuitchallenge.com to sign up today!