Wow – it’s really been too long! OK before I look to make excuses, let me briefly point out what’s been going on since last I checked you.
· Deborah developed a stomach bug which concerned us enough to admit her to Accident & Emergency – thankfully she stayed for a couple of hours and made a speedy recovery.
· Been looking to get a job … and applied for a few jobs … and am still waiting
· Worked with a friend on some research for a presentation.
· Got into the depth of preparation for the bible studies I conduct every week.
· Got more involved in the Men’s Ministry up here
· Dedicated myself to walking more than I have in the past
· Taken time off using the computer so regularly – only to have the wife using it more often
· Witnessed the wife get ill with flu-like symptoms and thankfully make a recovery
You’ll be glad to know that Charis is staying in touch, despite her being on the other side of the globe in the Vietnam/Thailand kind of area. I really appreciate that. This leads nicely into the issue of …
Yeah, it may not be a big deal to you, but it’s a big deal to me. It’s fair to say that 2005 was a really difficult year for me. I don’t think it’s the worst of my life … but it’s got to be in the top 2. One lesson I learned was the importance of friends, and although I didn’t believe I had any, when I looked at it closer I discovered there were some key people who stood by me, supported me and expressed their love for me in powerful ways that helped me overcome. Here they are in reverse order.
5. Ruth Dryden: Now I know there maybe some who believe family members shouldn’t be on the list, but I believe that this is pure rubbish. Just because you’re siblings or blood related it is not a given that you’ll be close. I know many siblings who are not particularly close – not for any malicious reason, it’s just been the way they’ve grown up. My experience is that I’ve been blessed to have a sister who really looks out for me. As it happens, this is probably the lowest my sister’s ever been on this list. She’s usually up there at the top. In 2005, however, Ruth finally was able to prioritise looking after herself rather than her family. I’m glad to say that she finally took an enormous leap of faith and married. The man she married is a Pastor, which is cool. It’s also meant that she’s moved to Ghana, as that’s where he lives. As a result of these developments and my issues, Ruth wasn’t really there for me as much as she has been. Indeed she’s been in Ghana for a large part of the year so it was logistically difficult to maintain the level of close relationship developed over the year. The reality is though, she was still a rock solid friend. Her advice and non-judgemental appreciation for my plight was so welcoming. Her sacrificial care for me even though she was in her challenging time meant more to me than money or Liverpool winning the Champions League (and that was a memorable, priceless moment). As we grow, I know things have to be different – she’s got a husband, and I’ve got a wife, we both have different lives to develop, yet I pray that our relationship will stay strong as the years go by.
4. Kevin Williams: This will be a surprise entry for anyone who knows me. A surprise to see him on the list and a surprise to see him above my sister. I’ve got on with Kevin in recent years, but it’s fair to say that I never really considered him to be a close friend or anything. What’s placed him in this position over the last year, was his ability to empathise with my position as a man going through difficulties. No one else really was able to just be there whenever we met to listen out and understand. As I came out of my cocoon in the latter half of the year, the brother was the recipient of my ear-bashing and outpouring of emotion. He sat and took it, and shared and encouraged. It was brilliant, I couldn’t ask for anymore in a friend, really; especially someone who hasn’t necessarily been there in that capacity before. I thank God for that level of friendship and pray that over the coming years I can build on this and be as faithful and solid a friend as this brother’s been to me.
3. Ritson Shields: There were people who have known me who were notable by their absence for most of the year. In a way I can understand – people have their own lives to lead, with their own issues and priorities, and with the best will in the world, it is not always possible to stay in touch with EVERYONE you’ve known. Still, I was hurt by the lack of contact and it made me look at the issue of friendship closer than before. One person who didn’t leave and really took on board what I was going through was my London mentor, Ritson Shields. As an older dude, he’s got years of experience to share. As a pastor, he has the gift to give what’s necessary to make progress in life. As a mentor, he’s committed himself to looking out for my welfare, and last year he did that to a tee. Sure it’s what is to be expected, but that shouldn’t detract from the fact that when you’re in the gutter it’s great to know some friends will not only be there for you but also encourage you to get out. Ritson encouraged and encouraged. Always gently prodding me to do what I know I needed to do. It’s a difficult to do getting me to do that, but he managed because he pressed the right buttons at the right time. I am hugely grateful for his understanding spirit, his constant vigilance in looking out for me, his prayers, his jokes, being real in sharing his life.
2. Authrine Dryden: In 2003 I married my best friend. Since then one of the outstanding elements of any success of the marriage has been down to our friendship. I’ve talked to Authrine more than I’ve talked to any human being … ever – and that’s just been in 6 years of knowing her and less than 3 years of being her husband. I hurt her BIG TIME which affected her a great deal in the first half of 2005. It would be understandable if she never wanted to open up again and if our marriage crumbled, but the dogged character that she is, she just took it to God and took her time to allow her heart to be mended and build our lives together again. It’s difficult for best friends to be best friends in those conditions which goes to explain why she isn’t number one, but for her love and kindness to me and the grace to forgive me, she deserves this placing. I’m in no doubt that come next year should our lives be spared she’ll take her rightful place at the top of this list – we’re that dedicated to each other. We’re talking again as we used to and the conversations are getting better all the time, and I remain hopeful that it will just continue on the upward trend regardless of the challenges we face, just because I know her as my friend.
1. David Dryden: From January to December no one person consistently supported me more than my brother. In my lowest ebb this man – despite his own serious issues, provided inspiration, encouragement, strength and hope jut by being himself. In his unassuming manner, my brother just spoke so much sense and wisdom into my situation that I marvelled at just how mature he is. We shared some great moments together over the year and it was the biggest disappointment of the year that I couldn’t be at his wedding, especially as he asked me to be his best man. Not being there for Ruth’s wedding was tough, but not being at David’s made me really sad. Yet it is the measure of the man’s effect on my year that he was able to go through the stressful time of the wedding and enduring life without his wife for a time … and still be such a great friend to me. Most of the highlights of the year can be linked to him, from my visit to his crib in late March, to his trip down to our place at the end of the year – which was the first opportunity I had to meet his wife. It is clear that there is a lot awaiting David in life and his ability must surely open doors for him in the future and I hope to be around to witness the harvest for all of the wonderful seeds he’s sown in those around him. He was never afraid to be brutally truthful, but always took time out to be considerate of my situation. The Bible says that there is a friend that’s closer than a brother and if you had a friend like my brother, you would know just how tight the friend has to be if they’re closer than this dude. As with my sister, I expect things to change as he enjoys his honeymoon year of marriage with his beloved. Yet things are looking good for us to still have an impact on each other’s life through visits, e-mails, shared projects, etc. Words, money and time could never repay the debt I owe to David Dryden for all the sacrifices he made for me last year – no one, and that includes my wife, made more for me in 2005 so that’s some indication as to why the dude deserves the title.
I’m glad to have the opportunity to share this with you. Hopefully I’ll be able to look back at this time with positive memories of what God did for me as He took me through a valley in life. With friends like these and a few others, I’m sure it will be easier to think better of this time.
Gotta give an honourable mention to a few others – Claudette Malcolm, Naomi Scott, Danny Flynn and my parents. Though one in particular who just missed out the list deserves a special mention. Freddie Jackson was amazing, he really was someone I’m grateful to know as a friend. At a particularly difficult time in the year, his solid friendship and ability to relate and be a friend was so great that I was overwhelmed. There’s a friendship I’m definitely hoping to maximise as time progresses as he’s been such a great friend to me.
So that be your lot for now. I don’t intend to leave it so long before keeping in touch again, and there is some great news to share … but more of that later on. As I understand it, there is one obligation to fulfil according to the word given, and I’ll endeavour to get me hopes for 2006 on a forthcoming issue of the blog. Until then, take time out to understand yourself, and as Clint Eastwood put it in his Dirty Harry character ‘A man’s gotta know his limitations’.
da man cd