Our friends influence the quality and direction of our lives. I didn’t make that up. I think that it comes from Andy Stanley, but I have heard it most from my good friend Nate Edmondson. More than that, Nate is the reason that I know this statement is true. I’ve known him for over a decade now, and it is obvious that the quality, and direction of my life would be totally different if it weren’t for him.
When I was in 6th grade, new to town and shy, he was a freshman in high school and friends with my sister. One day he asked my sister if I could come play football with him and his friends. I was young, small, a little nervous, and probably annoying, but he helped me feel at ease. Four years later when I was still mourning being cut from the baseball team and trying to figure out who I would be if I wasn’t a baseball player, he encouraged me to run for class president. That decision totally altered the direction of my high school career.
During my junior year, he let me come visit him for a weekend at his college in Chicago. He showed me around, brought me to class with him, and even let me tell jokes at his floor’s annual talent show. After my first year of college, he let me live with him for the summer (well technically his mom let me live with them, but I think he had a little something to do with it). We would stay up late watching either the Family Feud or replays of old Tennessee football games. Throughout the rest of my college years he continued to provide a listening ear, wise counsel, and an occasional couch to crash on. When I was getting ready to graduate college and trying to figure out what to do with my life, he helped me land a summer internship at his church in Seattle.
Thursday was my last day at his church in Seattle, and on Friday I landed in Tennessee. It’s hard to believe that three months have already passed by. Three months of doing ministry and living life with one of my best friends. I won’t ever be able to fully capture all of the lessons I have learned from Nate or count the many ways that he has blessed me. But after three months of life with him, I know for a fact that my friends influence the quality and direction of my life. With a friend like Nate, I am thankful that this is true.
Tomorrow I move to Knoxville and begin a new chapter of life. I don’t know what to expect, and it still hasn’t really set in yet. But tonight, as I reflect on the last couple of months as well as the last couple of years, I can’t help but to feel extreme gratitude for the number of guys who have stepped into my life and influenced the quality and direction of it for the better. To all of you: Thank you! As I move to a new city with only a handful of people I know, I can only hope to be that kind of friend for someone else.