this past weekend i was part of a beautiful conversation in chicago centered on friendship between men & women. i always say that while i don’t wake up every morning thinking about cross-gender friendships, i do wake up every morning thinking about people & relationships and ways we can participate in healing the shame and division of this world together (more on the healing shame & division part next week!).
my dear friend and refuge co-pastor karl wheeler and i spoke together on friday night. our conversation was called “making purple: learning to show up, speak up, shut up, and trust love.” we had a great time telling the bloody, messy, fun, sometimes-insane story of our friendship the past 7 years leading the refuge together. it’s a miracle, really, that we have made it this far, but it didn’t drop out of the sky. we have worked our butts off to keep hacking at this and i’m ever grateful for God’s everlasting grace & mercy.
friday night, we thanked each other for the ways we both have tried as best we could to be a good friend, teammate, and partner as we nurture this wild and beautiful community alongside each other. it’s not that we haven’t thanked one another before, but it was really sweet to remember the ways we have helped each other move forward.
my friend jim henderson pointed out something in the Q&A that struck me. he simply said, “hey you guys, thank you for thanking each other.”
it’s easy for me to remember all of the hard stuff, but the truth is that way back when, karl was the person who called me to come play in a way that changed the course of my life forever. he saw my passion, valued my leadership, and encouraged me to step into what i loved to do and lead a church together, something that in the evangelical world is extremely rare, especially since we aren’t married to each other. i have come a long way since then, but his simple and strong belief in me all those years ago is a significant part of my ongoing story.
jim’s comment made me think about how many people–men or women or both–have had influence in our lives that changed little or big things for us along the way.
they were seed planters or flame fanners or unexpected cheerleaders. their love and encouragement, their making room for us at the table, their kindness, their support, their healing touch (and yes, even painful words or unsolicited advice) helped us move toward something better.
maybe you’ve already told them before, but sometimes–like friday night–it’s good to remember again and say it out loud. it reminds us that we can’t do this crazy life without others. it reminds us that the ways we are with each other matters and that fanning each other’s hopes, dreams, beauty, healing, and goodness into flame in all kinds of interesting and simple ways does not go unnoticed.
they may already know they’ve impacted you but maybe it would be encouraging for them to hear it again. it’s always great to hear the words “thank you” and know that we somehow mattered.
there are so many other far more profound things to ponder from this past weekend, but my brain is mushy from working on this crazy-hard-overwhelming book project, and i do wonder if maybe the most simple things are actually the most meaningful.
so i invite us all to thank someone today.
no matter how big or small.
write them, call them, text them, facebook them, figure out a way tell them.
it’s a gift not only for them, but for us, too.