During the summer of 2007, I worked installing insulation for an insulation company. It was an itchy job and it was hard work, but I enjoyed it. As Henry Ford once said, “Chop your own wood, and it will warm you twice.” That quote works for insulation too.
As we worked in the hot summer sun, we often played country music on the radio to pass the time. To this day, I still remember clearly the songs that dominated the charts that summer: Taylor Swift’s “Teardrops on My Guitar,” Kenny Chesney’s “Never Wanted Nothing More,” and Miranda Lambert’s “Famous in a Small Town,” to name a few. But there was one song that stood out to me more than all the others: “Find Out Who Your Friends Are” by country great Tracy Lawrence. The song became his first number one since 1996.
You can check out the lyrics here, but the message is pretty simple: you find out who your friends are in the challenging seasons of life, not when everything is going perfectly. The song explains that true friends never ask “What’s in it for me?” or protest that helping is too hard or too time consuming. These true friends, according to the lyrics, “just show on up with their big old heart” ready to help, no matter the situation.
As the book of Proverbs tells it, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
The song both challenged and encouraged me. It challenged me because it made me ask hard questions: Who among my friends could truly count on me when the going was rough? Was I befriending people based on success and reputation, only to abandon them when the “friendship” became disadvantageous? It encouraged me, because I knew I had these true friends in my life–people that would rush toward me when I was discouraged or was in trouble.
This summer was challenging and hectic in many ways. There has been an inordinate amount of uncertainty and change. Rach and I don’t know where we will be living in the weeks and months ahead. We’re having a baby (which we are excited about!), but I don’t have a job. Preparing for the bar exam was difficult and time consuming. We certainly don’t have it as hard as many, but it has been an interesting summer nonetheless.
Through this uncertain time, I have been overwhelmed by the support, generosity, and selflessness of our friends and family. I have true friends–brothers and sisters “born for adversity”–who would pack up their truck (or car) at a moment’s notice to help or encourage me at any time, and in the middle of the night, if need be. I can’t afford to treat these friendships carelessly, because I know what I have is a rare thing. A man is incredibly fortunate to have friends he considers brothers.
So I challenge you, as my friends have challenged me: go be that kind of friend to the people in your life. Show your love to others through your actions. And pray for those you love. But as the old African proverb urges, “When you pray, move your feet.”