Finding Your Best Friend

When David[G] had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 2 Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. 3 Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. 4 Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. 5 David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him; as a result, Saul set him over the army. And all the people, even the servants of Saul, approved.–1 Samuel 18:1-5 | NRSV

Norman Scroggins is one of my childhood friends. We have been friends over forty years. Our friendship is one of my longest, deepest, and closet friendships. Our friendship has withstood the test of distance, time, and disagreements. We have remained friends, even though we live on opposites sides of the country, which often makes connecting via text, email, or mobile, very difficult (especially the latter) because of three hour time difference between NY(EST) and CA (PST). Still, we have found a way to honor and nurture the ties that bind.

We are similar in some ways, but very different in others. We share some common interest, such as politics, world affairs, black empowerment–just to name a few. Equally important, we share common traits; e.g., fiercely loyal to friends, disciplined in pursuit of personal and professional goals, prudent when picking battles, and go-to-guys for our respective families. There are other similarities to which I could point, to be sure. Still, it’s our common connective thread, which has run through the tapestry of our friendship, has been our faith in Jesus Christ.

We went to high school together and college together–at least for one year, after which time he transferred to San Jose State University. We took karate together, played high school football on the same team, and participated in the Youth Ministry at the Third Baptist Church of San Francisco, which is where we met. We lived in the same neighborhood and played in neighborhood sports challenges.

I’m not sure how we became friends. I believe God brought us together at a time when each of us could use a reliable and real friend. Nevertheless, I’m clear about when I committed to maintaining, protecting, and maturing the friendship. It was the moment I overheard a person, who had introduced us, bad mouth Norman behind his back to a crowd of guys we all thought were cool. At the moment, I risked what few cool points I had and spoke up, defending Norman and later informing him what had happened. From that moment on, we became fast friends and later best friends.

I credit God for my friendship with Norman, as well as friendship with my other closest friends, one of whom Jason Barr, has gone on to glory. My friends have not simply been supportive; they also have been formative. My friendship with Norman, like David’s friendship with Jonathan, has helped me to manage the painful parts of my history, sustained me in my search for a clear sense of identity, and propelled me into my destiny–all facts for which I am eternally grateful. I would not be who I am and have accomplished what I have without Norman–and let me hasten to add, my wife Muriel, Willette Burgie-Bryant, Leslie Braxton, and and Victor Hall.

To whom are you grateful to God? How have they impacted your life for good and God? How do you meet them? Along which lines has your friendship developed? Have you prayed for your friend today? God has blessed with you a bestie. So, be sure to bless your bestie for the balance of your days.

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