“Hey man, you think, like, maybe, we could meet up for a run in the morning, it might be fun, you never know”
Hesitating, “let’s try it.”
And so was born a friendship that covered countless kilometres of running as marathons and such were prepared for. My running buddy and I realized quickly we were dads that run not runners that dad. Still, we spent a lot of time together and while our calves, hearts and lungs benefitted, I would dare to say our souls benefited more so.
The value of spiritual friendship is not something I have read or heard much about but in my experience it is among the richest experiences one can have.
The guy in the photo is Blair.
You know he is spiritual because of the righteous beard:)
In fact, he was an elder in the church that first called me into full time ministry.
We became fast friends, though we mostly ran pretty slow. Together we covered an entire valley running all over the place as we learned the pains of chaffing, blisters, running out of water…oh the joys! We also spent countless hours on a pretty path beside a stream, only occasionally hitting the end of the path 29km away from our houses.
As the distances piled up so did the conversations, prayer requests, and serious vulnerable admissions. Spending time side by side and moving meant we could slowly but surely open up about all matters. Being roughly the same age and stage (30-40 year old straight white males with young children and sometimes pregnant wives) we had plenty to celebrate and plenty to whine about. We learned to trust each other and hear God through each other.
I am forever grateful for the time we had together running because it helped me be a better father, husband, pastor etc.
Also, it afforded us time to talk about faith, God, what it means to be a church and how the church might look and the roles it might play in our lives and the life of the community. It was a chance to speak of how God was working in me and to be pocked and prodded and pushed if I was getting a bit too lazy or passive.
I cannot recommend highly enough the value of finding such a soul to share some time with.
C.S. Lewis once noted that a friend is someone with and interest or passion/hobby that you shared, someone who looked at something and said, “what?! You too?!”
You do not have to be running together (though I guess not looking each other in the eyes too often likely helped us). Any activity, I suppose, will do, so long as it brings you into proximity of each other and affords you the ability to chat while engaging in the activity.
There is trial and error in this, and I have only ever had two really close spiritual friends. Getting it wrong can be painful (I know). Opening yourself up can feel vulnerable and maybe even weak (like I was admitting I needed a friend that day I asked Blair to run with me), still, if it works out it will be worth it.
Have you ever had a good spiritual friend? How did it come about? Any advice for folks looking for one now? Having recently changed cities, I am, of course, asking for a friend:)