A Word On Laughing

God has been so good to me.

In any given moment there is a friend who can say something that will get me laughing. In the childhood days there were competitions between us as siblings to see who could keep a straight face and not laugh at the efforts of the others. Though I loved funny things, it began to take a lot to get me to laugh.

Today I love laughing good and proper and there are some people who can hit the sweet spot of delivering a line that will have me in the guffaws without inhibition. It is a great feeling, especially seeing as though those jokes are coming from a good place. Nothing derogatory, defamatory, degrading or distasteful, just hilarious material clean and simple. Someone said laughter is a good medicine and when saints deliver it, I am certainly the better for the experience.

So this is just to say a massive thank you to the likes of Kevin, Andy, Ritson, Your Majesty as well as my siblings Ruth and David who are very good at letting the laughter flow.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

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December Thanks #03: Friends 

Everybody needs somebody.

Twenty years ago I was a student at Essex University. It was the first time I lived away from home. I was far from my family and there was no one I knew in the area. Everything was new. It was all weird for me. I had no idea what to do.

For the first year of my time at university I had little idea about much and quite often I would keep myself to myself. Thankfully, however, one of the first things that happened as I settled in my room in the halls of residence was come across Lloyd Clarke. We lived in the same floor and set of flats. He was one of the first people I met there. He was in his first year too. He did a lot to help me settle into life at the university as someone else getting used to something new. I enjoyed hanging about with Lloyd. He was a great conversationalist and very funny indeed. It was through Lloyd that I was introduced to a wider range of music and it was through Lloyd that I came across the student radio station that would be a massive part of my time at the university learning and loving broadcasting, producing, writing, editing and some of the inner workings of media. All of that was great and that was down to the friendship I developed with Lloyd Clarke. He was a very good friend.

Twenty years after our first meeting we met again. He took the time to come and visit me and it was quite something to see him and his son, Gethin. They were a blessing to my household. Lloyd is loved by everyone in my family who have come across him. My Mum won’t stop singing his praises. Even my brother remembers him, which for David is very impressive. Now my children have already grown very fond of him and his loveable son. It’s a great pleasure to be able to show my children my friend who helped me tremendously during my university years.

Lloyd is a great reminder that everybody needs somebody. Before Lloyd my years at school earlier had never really had me establish close and tight friendships. I envied my brother for that capacity he had to develop a deep friendship. I had people who I liked a lot and had some good conversations with people – but deep friendships were thin on the ground. Lloyd and I didn’t go profoundly deep in our friendship, but the bond was real and true. For him to still remember and regard me to choose to visit me says much about his character and the nature of the friendship.

What’s all the more remarkable is that Lloyd will do what a number of other people who have claimed to be my friend have not done. Choose to invest time in me. I am very grateful for that and it has highlighted one of the key ways in which I treasure and seek to develop friendships that have come up subsequently. Those relationships mean something because of the time invested in each other. I love finding out about people and giving them the space to express themselves whether it’s good, bad or indifferent. I appreciate their capacity to share themselves and I endeavour to reciprocate.

Twenty years after I first met Lloyd there are other friendships that I have developed. Even this year there have been several that have been started with much promise and potential in them. I am hugely grateful to God for these relationships as they do much to help me in different aspects of my life. For all of those real, deep and meaningful friendships, I will always highly regard and admire that friendship with Lloyd Clarke that started all those years ago. God has given me connections that help me learn to love and respect His brilliant creation.

Everybody needs somebody and wherever I go, God gives me somebody. For that I am forever grateful.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

You Care

You spend the time listening to me and the issues I bring up. You don’t look bored at all, in fact your level of interest inspires me to continue sharing. 

Thank you for sharing your life as well and making me feel like sharing  your life matters to you just as much as hearing me talk about my life does. You let me vent my frustrations and when I go off on one about some of my flights of rhetoric about football, film, food, friends, family or faith, you engage, you don’t judge and condemn, neither do you let me get away with nonsense or foolishness. 

You’re really good for me and I appreciate that. It shows something that you have never needed to verbalise – it shows you care. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

On the Inside, Coming Alongside

My friend Steve is brilliant.

Among the list of aspects that makes him brilliant is his capacity to motivate. One conversation about my lack of fitness and stamina turned into him inviting me to go with him to a gym. That encouragement turned to him actively helping me get to grips with the different stations in the circuit. Gruelling though they were, he was on hand to advise and support me around the circuit helping me to stay focused on doing what I could do.

He was brilliant at getting inside my situation and then coming alongside me to walk with me through to a much better outcome.

As I reflect on that it’s once more the case that it’s easier to quit something than to start something, but harder still is to pick up something you stopped and maintain it. Hard though that is, it is hugely rewarding. It’s helped tremendously by those who get inside and then walk alongside to support progress.

For His Name’s Sake
Shalom
C. L. J. Dryden

Wounds from a Friend

Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.
(Proverbs 27:6 NIV)

There are understandable and noble sentiments in relationships. One of them is the one that says I will never hurt you. It’s said with the greatest intentions, but thinking it through carefully and realising the decisions and paths people take it should become evident soon that you cannot always live up to that sentiment. Indeed it is causing greater hurt in the future not causing hurt in the present.

I am blessed to have certain people in my life who understood there were times when the best thing for me would cause me a degree of discomfort, pain and for a time my hostility towards them. In as much as I knew they loved me and meant well for me, at the time I was too caught up in the pain of their rebuke or their wounding action. At the time I wasn’t too savvy to consider the wisdom outlined in the proverb above. What proved it over time was their remaining commitment to me and over time my calming down to see how right they were in doing and saying what they did at the time. Of course I had to apologise for my reaction. The level of contrition I felt was all the greater because of their commitment to me and to righteousness in the relationship.

It continues to teach me a vital lesson about relationships, even as my one with my heavenly Father involves Him using a discipline at times that I am likewise not overly thrilled about in that moment. Knowing it’s for my good requires a focus that comes from being reminded of the character of the one who is acting in this manner. As the proverb highlights the wounds are coming from a friend – and a friend is defined by certain qualities that makes their actions and intentions ones to be carefully considered.

I can say it now more than I could say it at the time, I am grateful for the wounds of my friends. (Hey yo, friends, that’s not an invitation, though!)

For His Name’s Sake
Shalom
C. L. J. Dryden

Sam’s 1st Epic 20 – Sworn Friendship

Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord , saying, ‘The Lord is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’ ” Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town. (1 Samuel 20:42 NIV)

One was the man who should be King, son of the ruling monarch, he had gained acclaim for his bravery and showed greater kindness and compassion than his father. The other was the man who would be King, from humble beginnings, he was selected by God and displayed a character of loyalty to God, King and country that could not be questioned.

There was nothing to really connect these two men and yet a bond was established between the strength of which would forever be remembered in holy scripture. The man who should be King was more than willing to give that up for the love he had for the man who would be King. The two were so close they committed themselves to each other with a sworn friendship that would last generations.

All based on a love that would inspire one of David’s son to write that there is one who sticks closer than a brother. Jonathan exhibited that type of love even at the risk of his own relationship with his father. It’s an incredible devotion and example of the close bonds friendships can achieve. The sort of relationship where ambition, position, ability, qualification, name, background all are subservient to the desire to see and support the best in the other no matter the cost.

As they embraced and cried together, perhaps they had an idea that they may never see each other again. Perhaps they knew the seriousness of the hostility Saul had towards David and saw that it could separate them as long as they lived. Despite the physical separation, however, the bond between them was established far deeper in their hearts than the words they exchanged expressed.

Their pact and friendship would never be broken despite whatever was ahead. Such was their commitment, such was the bond, such was the sworn friendship.

For His Name’s Sake
Shalom
C. L. J. Dryden

When What They Say Is For You

One of the beautiful things about blossoming friendships is finding out all the things new about the other person.

There’s this young brother who I had briefly conversed with, but this was the first time I felt we had been able to talk properly. The setting was suitable for it. No distractions, no interruptions, relaxed and able to just share at a leisurely pace.

The young brother, for reasons known to him, looked forward to conversing with me, perhaps because of the age gap issue. I looked forward to the conversation just to find out a bit more about him and identify where and how I could be a blessing to him. This is not unusual for me in conversations. I am not a big fan of dominating the conversation and keeping it focussed on me. It’s an annoying trait I notice some people do unconsciously, I am sure I’ve been guilty on occasion, but I certainly prefer hearing about you and seeing how I can help you even if it’s just with the listening.

In that position then, it was surprising that hearing this young brother share about himself and his own challenges illuminated quite a lot for me. He was sharing about things that not only could I empathise with, but actually directly spoke into my situation. Not that he was doing that on purpose. He was just taking the time to enjoy the freedom to just share. It was just delightful to be enriched by him just sharing as he did.

It just goes to show that often when we look to serve, God uses the opportunity to allow us to be served if we but have the sense to know it.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden