Train Wrecks – Guest Post

February 5, 2015

I recently attended an appreciation banquet/roast for a friend of mine who is transitioning career paths.

Honestly, simply referring to him as a ‘friend’ is not a true reflection of the relationship. We were roommates, teammates, co-workers, troublemakers, road-trippers and we remain cohorts, fishing buddies, and essentially brothers. Regardless of the geographical distance between us, he is the phone call I can make at 2am in time of need.

The following is a slightly cleaned up version of a text conversation following my visit:

Friend: “I know I’m a train wreck at times…I’m grateful to call you friend.”

Me: “Ha! I think all of our trains wreck differently. Ditto my friend.”

This kind of friendship has grown over 25+ years. I realize not everyone has the fortunate experience of having those kinds of bonds. Admittedly, I have taken it for granted, but have been also abruptly reminded, in times of life struggles and crisis, how invaluable having a friend like that in your corner becomes.

With this in mind, I’ve been recently reflecting on maps. More specifically, those maps having two distinct colors associated with “for” and “against” votes/opinions. You may have seen similar maps where the colors represent the opinions of the country on the issue of “deflate-gate.” Another similar map was displayed in a more serious scandal having to do with Penn State football in years past. In each occurrence, there was a distinct color saturation related to the proximity of the incident vs the overwhelming “against” votes as the locations moved farther away from “ground zero.” This is most likely an expected result to most people.

My point is not to identify right or wrong issues or who is on the right side of the law, rules, morality or encouraging sympathy for criminals. My point is that time and proximity allow for a buffer of grace. There is always a space in time existing between an event and the reaction to that event. That space is highly influenced by relationship (time and proximity). I’m reminded of the phrase, “where you sit is where you stand.” Perhaps it also influences the difference in viewing a “train wreck” from a cause and effect perspective to one of a concern for all the passengers.

At New Life, you will hear terms like “we’re a church for messed up people” and “I’m just a beggar showing another beggar where to get bread” and goals such as “offering a cold drink of water in Jesus’ name.” These are the simple values that attracted me to New Life many years ago and the same ones that have kept me connected. For me personally, I have been most impacted in the men’s group “Band of Brothers” and “Celebrate Recovery(CR)” where communities of safe places, confidentiality, healing and an encouragement of being real are valued. In these places, a healing walk with others in community, toward a growing relationship with Jesus, can occur and thrive.

I’d like to conclude with an invitation from this train wreck of a sinner saved by grace to you, especially if you’re doing life alone or at least you feel you are. Would you consider getting connected to a small group, CR or reach out to a friend for a cup of coffee to begin a more intentional, deeper relationship with one another and Jesus? Some form of community or friendship where life’s big scary questions can be discussed? Consider investing your time and proximity in healthier ways? It’s worth it!

-Mark Boughner

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