Today as I write this blog I turn 47 years old. I think, like every year, my birthday is a time of reflection. Another year has passed and the stark reality, as I am blessed with another day of life, I am also one day closer to the great equalizer: Death. Birthdays are when we look back and we judge ourselves on our past expectations. Have I hit my goals? Am I making the money I thought I would be making by this age? When I was 20 did I think I would be doing what I am doing now? Do I have that fancy car? Big house? Birthdays are also a time of looking forward and setting new goals. I want to lose 20 pounds this year. Take my wife away for a long weekend. Play more golf.

Though I think this type of thinking is normal, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t entertain these same thoughts, today my thoughts are on my friendships. Today, by 8:00am I had already had 80 birthday wishes either text, phoned, or posted on social media. These well wishes have come from around the world. It has been a bit overwhelming if the truth be told. My work has allowed me to meet so many people. I mention often in my trainings that I tend to make lots of friends but am very scared to let those friends get too close. It’s hard for me to open up and let myself get too vulnerable. I share lots of things about my life with my friends but seldom my insecurities and deep-seated fears. Those I keep tight to the vest. Friendship, true friendship, is not easy for me. I don’t think I am the only one though who struggles with friendship.

As social media grows, and virtual platforms increase, the ability to really connect seems to become more difficult. It feels like people “collect” friendships. It’s about creating as many friends and followers on social media as one can. They add people as friends like collecting star wars characters. Just like a toy collector, social media friendships are seldom taken out of the package. They sit on the self to occasionally look at but are never really “played” with like friendships are intended to be. As I reflect today about the many blessings I have through my friendships I want my relationships to be “out of the package” and “scuffed up”. I want my friendships to not be something that sit on the shelf to admire but rather something that I treasure and often interact with in a personal and real way. It also means that I need to allow myself to be unpackaged as it were and to be open to getting “scuffed up” and being vulnerable.

So, I am not doing what I thought I would be doing at this age. I am not making the money I thought I would be or driving the car I had hoped or living in the house I imagined. I have missed the mark on almost all of my younger goals. However, I would never have imagined how many really amazing friendships I would have at this point in my life. I am blown away. I am humbled by the amount of amazing people God has put into my life as friends. I do hope to lose 20 pounds this year, have a long weekend away with Jammie, and golf more, but more importantly I hope to find myself worthy of my friends. Let me share in closing, Frank Dempster Sherman’s poem entitled Worthy of My Friends and may it be what I strive for in the coming year.

Worthy of My Friends

It is my joy in life to find
At every turning of the road
The strong arm of a comrade kind
To help me onward with my load

And since I have no gold to give,
And love alone must make amends,
My only prayer is, while I live-
God make me worthy of my friends.

Tim Geels – SVP of Organizational Development