This entry begins my 3 part series on relationships, my experiences with them from when I was born until the present day, and how they have impacted my life. When I say relationships I am referring more to friendships than romantic relationships, however romantic relationships do play a part of that.
If there is one thing that I have learned in my 27 years as a member of the human family it is that relationships are the driving force of our lives. God made us to be in relationship – with Him, with family, with friends, with all of creation. Nothing satisfies my heart more than being in relationship with others, and while I am not always the best at cultivating relationships, I try to do my best and without them I would not be the person I am today.
As a young boy growing up my memories of being in relationship are with my family. My parents, my two brothers, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles – they were basically all I knew. Somewhere along the way I became a momma’s boy, as I saw the way she loved me and my brothers and sacrificed so much for us each and every day. She still does, and there is no way I can ever repay her for all the love and support she has given me as I have grown into a man. My dad was always the “fun” parent, as I would always get so excited getting outside and playing sports with him and my brothers. Whenever he would take us to see a movie at the theaters my eyes lit up and it became a magical experience for me. That’s probably why I love movies so much to this day. With my brothers from day one we were always caught up in (usually) friendly competition about who was the better soccer or basketball player or who was the best looking – any chance we got we were competing with each other. Moving around every few years, it was only once a year or so we would return to Kansas City to see our extended family, and each time I enjoyed it so much I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stay there with my cousins forever because we had so much fun together.
Growing up I always had a lot of friends, but moving around so much they came and went and I was ok with that because at the time I didn’t understand the meaning of relationships. I would have fun with my friends and that was that. It wasn’t until I started high school that the friendships in my life really began to mean something, and that is no doubt inextricably linked to discovering God in my life and beginning a personal relationship with him. Two things occurred as I began high school – two things which I was adamantly against at first but I can’t thank my mom enough for now – and those are joining the youth group at my church, St. Thomas More, and being forced to attend the all-boys Jesuit high school in Denver, Regis. Through these two communities I began to understand what relationship truly means.
I often think back to an orientation I had at Regis towards the end of 8th grade for all incoming freshman, and how the principal told all of us soon-to-be freshman to stand up and look around. He continued by saying, “You don’t know it yet, but these other young men you see standing here are your brothers, and by the time you graduate from Regis you will consider them your brothers.” I thought he was crazy at the time, but those words he spoke that day were true. Through our shared experiences at Regis of football, basketball, and soccer games, to our time spent doing community service together, and even to sharing our faith – especially through the Kairos retreat – we became brothers and by the time I graduated I knew I would do anything for them.
(I have a great photo to insert here of the Regis class of 2001 nearing graduation before one of our senior pranks – showing up to school with no pants on, just boxers, with shirts tucked in and belt on to hold it all in place as was required by dress code – but unfortunately it is not currently in digital format. They actually let us go to 2 classes like that!)
As my relationship with God grew in high school, so did the other relationships in my life. In addition to joining the youth group at my church I joined the youth choir. Every Sunday after 9am Mass we would go over to someone’s house and cook brunch together, often times singing even more and enjoying time in fellowship with each other. In college when the youth choir began singing at the Sunday evening Mass each week, we would always go out to dinner together. To this day one of my favorite things to do in life is to share a meal with a group of people, enjoying good conversation and some good laughs.
During this time I went on Rocky Mountain TEC #96, a retreat where I experienced love overwhelmingly through the greater TEC community. Some of my relationships at church became very inspirational figures to me. My youth minister, choir director, and her husband all showed me that simply being present to people and loving them for who they are really goes a long way. These people are still very close friends of mine today, and I feel truly blessed to call them my friends.
I will continue tomorrow with part II of “Relationships – Bringing Meaning To Our Lives – The Gonzaga Years”. Watch out!
UNTIL NEXT TIME…