How Many Friends Do You Have?

One of my favorite all-time movies is Tombstone.  I’ll spare you several references and discussion points for obvious reasons.  However, one particular scene has stood out to me recently; when Doc Holliday and Turkey Creek Jack Johnson are talking.  Johnson thinks the endeavor in which Holliday is about to embark is foolish.  Holliday expresses his reasoning as something quite simple – helping his friend.  Johnson responds by telling Holliday that, from his perspective, it shouldn’t be that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things because he has a lot of friends. Holliday responds by making the simple statement, “I don’t.”

While I would highly doubt it played out this way in history, it does send a very clear message:  friends, even when you may have just one, are worth fighting for.  The dialogue from the movie speaks to me because I can relate to it – I simply do not have very many friends.  This is in stark contrast to my early years when I thrived on my social life and tried to spend as much time around other people as I possibly could.  Several things have contributed to my digression in friendships, all of which I accept responsibility for.  I simply do not believe that I am busier that someone else, have a harder job, nor will I blame it on the fact that I am married and have kids.  I will however blame it on my reluctancy to allow people to befriend me in the past few years.  Gradually, I have become distant, harder to communicate with, grumpy, and in general, not that easy to be friends with.  I’ve closed myself off and without much effort, severed ties with many people who care deeply about me.

Evernote Camera Roll 20140918 233657Dave O’Kresik invited me on a fishing trip recently.  We went to Colorado and trekked several miles of various rivers in search of trout.  During this trip, I took the opportunity to make it known my nickname for Dave, “The Mayor.”  No matter where the guy goes, people want to talk to him like he is always running for office.  He would jokingly walk away from someone on the trip and say, “That was one of my constituents.”  It is quite evident after church on Sundays, as getting face-time with him can be an arduous task.  While this is something I tease him about, I believe it also speaks volumes about his character.  He spreads himself thin and pours into people with an intentional drive.

Jeremy Burt has been my most consistent friend.  My notion to write on this topic came from a phone call he made to me earlier this week.  He called to ask my advice on something that was troubling him.  He has never given up on me and sometimes I believe he makes phone calls like this one just to ask my advice so we can have a conversation, which admittedly, I don’t always make all that easy.

You see, it is people like these men that make the importance of friendships so evident.  I’m not throwing myself a pity party, I’m not feeling sorry for myself, I am calling myself out.  My namesake in the Bible made is apparent how important friendships are.  David speaks about him after his death stating, “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant you have been to me…”  You can go read the story if you choose, but the point is, Jonathan did whatever it took for David.  I need to be that kind of friend, the intentional kind.  I need to be the kind of friend people talk about.  For now, from studying, watching, and learning from such wonderful examples, I realize how much I have to learn.

Jonathan Atchley