I’m a blessed guy. I’m healthy with the occasional kidney stone. I’m educated and have had a lot of great opportunities in my life. I’m not as well traveled as I’d like, well, except for, well you know.
But probably my greatest blessing is my friends and I’m going to take some time to highlight friends of mine during this blog (and here’s a clue: I’m starting to run dry on material. Writing 750-1000 every day for publication is WORK my friends. I may have to tone it down a bit. Big Papa gets tired!)
On the left is my buddy Steve Boutry. This is with our friend Cuban John.
Steve is a college pastor out in rowdy Boston, MA. He works with college students all around Boston and the people in his neighborhood, bringing Good News. He takes students to Salem on Halloween (you know, witches) to serve the community there.
Last year I had the opportunity to go out there and help serve. I helped give away free hot chocolate. I literally pointed at people and said, “Green Lantern gets hot chocolate! Batman gets hot chocolate! Optimus Prime gets hot chocolate! Scary ghost gets hot chocolate! Ginger gets—-a handshake, with a gloved hand, but no touching.”
What’s strange about Steve and I’s friendship is that we are nothing alike. He’s reserved, introverted, and I’m anything but reserved. I’m unreserved. Clearly.
We met way back at Mount Hermon conference center in 2003 when I was a camp pastor and he was working with college students. We hung out all the time, playing board games, and I read to him and other guys, the book Holes.
It was one of the few summers where obligation and responsibility had taken a back seat. It was just ministry, beach trips, late night talks and campfires. A great time.
Then soon after I moved to Salinas to work at Cal State San Marcos, and there was Steve Boutry. We did college ministry together and epic things together. We discovered Donald Miller together. Yeah, we discovered him. You’re welcome, Don.
You’d look at us and say, “Why are you two friends?”
We are friends because we need people who are completely like us and unlike us to bond together. On the surface we are ying and yang. He loves sports, and I love video games. He’s athletic and loves running. I only like to run if there’s a zombie behind me. He has awesome taste in music. I love Bruce Hornsby. I stand by that.
But Steve and I are both pretty empathic. We love Macintosh products. We have a heart for college ministry, ministry that serves and relates. We aren’t big fans of programs. We love board games (DIXIT!)We are avid readers. And we are hilarious.
Steve brings balance to this crazy, high strung guy and he’s doing epic work. He depends on people giving to his ministry to continue this epicocity.
I even stood up in his wedding. Best Man. Big Speech. No pressure. NAILED IT!
I think we lose out a lot in life if we are looking for friends of ours to be clones, to be just like us so we can talk about things that we like, we know, instead of having friends who challenge us and offer us a different side.
On paper, man, we would not be matched up, but that’s the glorious, actual glorious thing about friendship. If we do not put our own selfish boundaries on the possibilities of friendship, we wind up surrounded by the best people.
Now, I will gravitate towards the known. I am a member of a fraternity and a gaming group called the “Fur Trappers”, but the more and more I get older, the more I realize that branching out and finding friendships that don’t fulfill the definition of myself but stretch the definition is where I need to head.
And as I’m going through this journey in Afghanistan, I’m finding friends along the way that might be able to that:
Tony: Moved here from Kenya. He’s supporting his family by working in the coffee shop 12 hours as day. Every day.
Lee: Manages a ton of contracts out here. Good guy. Has two disabled sons. He can’t find a job in the states.
Mike: Runs the education facility here. We’re going to play in a chess tournament later. I plan on losing ungraciously.
Steve Boutry is one of my greatest friends and I hope that when I return to the States, and arrive in Boston, he’s waiting for me in the train station (with Dunkin Donuts coffee and a donut. Chocolate cake. Glazed.)