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 #12: Strangers

He asked me if I was a sociable type. There was a friend we both knewwho definitely was a real social animal. That guy wouldn’t have a problem meeting someone and talking to them real friendly like. Me, on the other hand, that is an aspect that has not been a particular strength of mine.

What has happened of late, however, is a greater appreciation for the contact and engagement that has taken place with people who in essence were complete strangers. It’s worth mentioning again that the advice given to children not to talk to strangers is an interesting piece of advice seeing as though most people we know as friends startedas a stranger.

To even have that conversation with him about if I was sociable spoke volumes for where I was now because of the work that took place with people taht started off as strangers. What at first may appear strange can over time become the friendly and familiar. I am thankful for the people who have made that transition and allowed me to make that transition in their lives too. I am also grateful for the ability not to just consider people for how strange they may behave or appear, but to remember that which is strange in me and consider their strangeness asan invitation to understand before being misunderstood.

My life is enriched today because of the kindness of strangers. For that I am forever grateful.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C.L. J. Dryden

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

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

Fun with Friends

I admit it.

Sometimes I can take life and myself too seriously. There’s an earnestness, a depth, a pondering, something more to what there is, something worth taking for much more than its face value that I feel obliged to uncover with due diligence. In all that something like fun gets derided and sidelined. I am very sorry for that.

I see my daughters messing around with their friends and the sound of them laughing at their fun can sometimes alleviate those earnest occasions I get. They remind me that once it was alright to just have fun.

Thank God for friends in my life who not only remind me of that but also deliberately make time and space for me to experience that and realise once more that there’s room for levity in life. There’s time for laughter, there’s a place for fun. There’s no better time or place for that than with friends in an atmosphere of trust and relaxation. It does me much good to have those experiences.

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

16MTP 22 – It Rubs Off On You

Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered,  or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared. (Proverbs 22:24-25 NIV)

Halfway through the 22nd chapter of Proverbs is the start of 30 Sayings of the Wise. I remember chuckling at that because if these are the sayings of the wise, what have I been reading in these previous chapters?

In any case, of the six sayings we get in the chapter, the third one jumped up and slapped me upside the head in particular.

The warning about the company we keep is an aspect of life that still affects me today. I can look back and see the influence people had on me just by spending a lot of time around them. What this saying mentions about learning the ways of those around you, makes it very clear that learning is about how we allow the lives of others to shape our own, however independent we think we are.

Being around people inclined to humour may not have made me funnier, but it did make me more apt to see a quip or one liner in situations. Being around people inclined to pray seriously and deeply on issues influenced me (and continues to influence me) to take prayer seriously. Being around people committed to being an agent of change still provokes me to not see myself settling for what is but pursuing what can be.

Likewise there have been seasons where the company I was around had interests and personalities that were not as helpful or pure. There’s an intentionality being around certain people – just because we share the same space at times doesn’t necessarily mean I am ‘around you’. In those seasons around those people I know I wasn’t so keen to do what was right in God’s sight.

That was about the active choices I took in the people I chose to be around. That’s why I acknowledge the importance of the company I keep. If I choose well it will rub off on me.

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

Thanks to Her Majesty and Mr Simmonite

Two very important people in my life celebrate their birthday today.

Of course I will do the thing of sending them a message and leaving something on their Facebook wall, but it was also worth taking this opportunity to declare my gratitude for both in my life.

About Her Majesty

I met Her Majesty (her real name is Josephine, but she’s royalty, so I acknowledge that) ten years ago this year. (So she’s not celebrating her 10th birthday for anyone guessing her age. This should be the end of the parentheses … for the time being.) She helped me settle into life working at the YMCA, which as you should be aware if you follow this blog is the best working experience of my life to date. Her Majesty was a pivotal part of that memorable experience.

Her Majesty is one of those people who can play it cool on the surface whatever else is going on behind the scenes. She’s so cool to the panic and flustering around her, but it is not that she insensitive and unmoved. Within her there is such a passion and compassion for people, there is such a concern for the welfare of others that even writing it down and remembering it makes me very tearful. It’s been a great witness to me.

What’s also tremendously remarkable about her is her commitment to growth. Such is her humility and modesty that she doesn’t always recognise but she has grown in character, stature and maturity in these ten years. She may have been a bit nervous and timid in approaching certain things before, but that has been dealt with clearly in the years. She speaks with an authority and power that is not dependent on volume, but on a certainty that is piercing.

It’s truly an awesome privilege to among those who have met her, talked with her and been able to share aspects of life with her. It’s a great life worth celebrating and I’m incredibly blessed by association with her.

About Mr Simmonite

Leaving Stoke-on-Trent was a big deal. Out in the middle of nowhere and no friend in sight. God placed in my life an amazing friend.

Mr Simmonite is someone who could relate with me. The way he just got on with me was truly impressive. So great at making me feel at ease, able to conjure a smile from me out of nothing. He was the central hub of the best work team I worked with. Down to his honesty, down to his irrepressible charm. Yeah he was good looking, but I never held that against him.

One of the things I will always be thankful for in a friend like Mr Simmonite is being there when people suffer. he was there for me when I was suffering. He was there for me even when he wasn’t doing great himself. He was able to empathise with me and know what I needed at some painful parts of my life.

Sure we shared similar taste in enjoying football and loving being funny, that is a great bond to the friendship. What’s equally fascinating about the guy is that he can make something boring lively and of great interest by the way he communicates it. I love the way he’s blokey and witty and intelligent, with a tremendous heart for what is right. He’s not selfish enough to think that the world revolves around him and he’s never wrong. He’s far too modest in acknowledging what a brilliant guy he is and what he has to offer this world.

I love the man. He is brilliant and it enrages me that people have taken advantage of his good nature. For someone to get me to be enraged about anything is a hallmark of the value on which I place someone. I treasure his friendship as he’s a great friend.

And So …

When I think life sucks and things are bad for me for the things I don’t have, people like Her Majesty and Mr Simmonite – rare people indeed – show me I am very blessed indeed. I trust they will enjoy great things because they are great people!

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden