Henry turned his chair to me, leaned back as he always does, and sighed. I couldn’t tell if it was a sigh of relief or a sigh of grief. Perhaps both.
“I know, Dean. I’ve got a few things left on my to-do list, and then I’m out!” He gave me a cheeky grin.
I returned the grin. Henry’s departure would be bittersweet.
I’m always thankful for God leading my friends closer to Him; sometimes, though, I wish that didn’t mean actually moving them.
“Well, you better get your last bit of work done, then,” I said to Henry. “Otherwise, they’re not gonna let you actually leave.”
Henry chuckled; I was only slightly joking.
As I turned around, I saw a flash of my friendship with Henry — our first somewhat awkward lunch together, my coming out to him, his sharing of his struggles with me, our Bible study together — it all ran through my mental projector. I smiled to myself, thinking of our most recent bonding experience.
I was prepping to deliver a pretty big presentation to the staff. Henry had been praying for me about it and listened to my pent-up nerves that morning. As I stood to go to the meeting, he jumped up and said, “Hang on, before you go, let’s do something!”
Henry grinned massively, and I had no idea what was about to happen. Then, he did what I can only described as something you’d see high school football players do when trying to get amped for a game — if those high school players were all doped up on shrooms and coffee beans.
After his ritualistic dance, Henry patted me on the back and shouted, “You got this!”
Straightest moment of my life.
As I thought about all this, I wanted to say something to Henry. So, I turned around and prepped my words.
“Henry, I just want you to know,” I began, “you have been such an amazing friend to me. I’ve been so blessed to have known you and talked with you. You have helped me so much in my marriage, my ministry, and my walk with God. I don’t think I can ever say how truly thankful I am for you. You have impacted my life in an incredible way, and I will always be thankful for that. I will miss you so much, and I hope you know I will always be here for you just as you have been there for me.”
Henry was speechless. I’m not sure which specific part of my speech left him like that, but he was clearly at a loss for words.
“Wow, thanks, man,” Henry said. “I don’t think I realized how much I’ve impacted you. I feel the same. Thank you for being a good friend.”
Part of me wanted to jump into a big hug with him — but that’s never been our friendship. So, I gave a simple nod to him and said, “All right, Henry, get back to work. You don’t want to have to come in tomorrow!”
Henry chuckled at the thought; once again, I was only slightly joking.
Have you experienced reciprocated appreciation with another man? Is it challenging to express genuine happiness for someone else’s success — especially if it potentially impacts you in a negative way?