The Bigger Picture

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

Old typewriter

After reading the hundreds of birthday wishes you guys left on my Facebook wall last week in honor of my fifty-fifth birthday, I felt very much like George Bailey at the end of the Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Thanks you guys for taking the time to stop by my page to post succinct “happy birthday” greetings, animated GIFs, videos, artwork, and a few pictures from back in the day when I had a much smaller waist and a lot more hair.

(Yes, fifty-fifth. It’s shocking to me, too. When I get a good picture taken that’s been sufficiently Photoshopped, I’ll show you what fifty-five years of living looks like.)

I know this particular Facebook tradition isn’t unique to me. Everybody on Facebook experiences something similar. But what makes my experience unique is that no one else in the world has the exact same mix of friends that I do. Each of you brings something no one else can to the party: you.

As I looked at the pictures of all your smiling faces in a seeming endless stream on my wall, I couldn’t help but notice that you guys are quite the motley crew. Don’t believe me? Just scroll through my Friends list.

In matters of faith, you guys are all over the map: Christian Jewish, Muslim, Agnostic, a few Nones (Atheists), and there’s even a couple of Buddhists in the mix.

You’re nurses, doctors, interior designers, teachers, preachers, reporters, laborers, musicians, lawyers, actors, coaches, and a reformed “playa” or two. I’m proud to know carpenters, bartenders, a kayak/canoe expert, sommeliers, and some very talented chefs. You’re self-professed good ol’ boys, misfits, debutantes, ninjas, yoga masters, and of course the literati.

Suffice it to say, you’re all over the political spectrum . . . and that’s all I’ll say about that.

Some of you are retiring from careers and others are starting theirs. You guys are marrieds with children, married empty nesters; there’s parents of fur babies, singles, single parents with kids, and kids whose parents are no longer with us. And yes, for the record, a couple of firemen and former and current law enforcement officers round out the list.

Part of my joy comes from learning what makes you guys tick and how you’ve come to be the people you are. Know that with each and every relationship, whether you knew me before I was born or we still have yet to meet in person, you inspire me.

I mean, come on! We’ve laughed, cried, sweat our balls off together in costumes—separate costumes. We’ve traveled the world and been roommates. More of you than you’d ever imagine have pulled me back from the brink of despair, others have lent me not a, but two hands in helping to make my dreams a reality.

You’ve loved me when I didn’t feel lovable; not to mention the times when I’ve behaved in ways that run counter to what love is.

You ladies and gentlemen have mastered the art of coaxing me out of my shell, as well as helped me slow my roll when need be. (No sharing stories in the Comments section, thank you.)

But each one of you has been the unwitting instruments of God’s provision, grace, and mercy in my life. Some of you been used by Him to burnish my jagged edges and others have more than once been a safe place to land.

You’ve opened your doors and your hearts, and been living examples of how beautiful life can be when you flow with the go.

I could go on and on, but I think you’re getting the message. No matter how often or seldom we’re in contact, my heart is brimming with gratitude for you enriching my life with the gift of your friendship.

May God bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you.

(Hey, one more thing. Could you say a prayer that He help me to share with others what you’ve given to me? Your love. Thanks.)

12 thoughts on “I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends”

  1. Becky Smith (Sparkle) says:

    What a beautiful post Clay…you have such a way with words and can articulate the exact sentiment you want to express…such a gift you have and are…Hugs from me to you! ❤️❤️❤️

  2. Laura Dana says:

    <3 you, Clay Rivers. Guess who made the booklist that I turned over to our school librarian? Perhaps you'll find time to visit and speak to my new crew of students. Many more happy birthdays!

    1. Clay Rivers says:

      I <3 you too, Laura. Oohhh, booklist! Who? 😉 Let’s talk about dates and times and details, and make it happen! Thank you much!

  3. Lori Meuse Connell says:

    Clay, your words, your writing, your kind soul keeps me grounded. I’m going through a change right now, not sure where God is taking me, but when I reviewed my memory from last year the other day, I couldn’t help but share it because the words from Walking Tall were speaking to me at just the right time.
    I am too honored to know you.
    Lori Meuse Connell

    1. Clay Rivers says:

      Lori, I am truly humbled. Thank you. I’m starting to realize that life is about going with God’s flow in the midst of making our own plans. That may sound like a conundrum, but if you think about it it’s the ultimate parent-child relationship. We make our desires, hopes, and dreams known to Him, and He in turn lays out a path that serves two (at the very least) purposes.

      1. He grows us, matures us, and moves us closer to all that He created us to be.
      2. He grants us the desires of our heart as only a father would without spoiling us in the process.

      Thank you for your affirmation. I only hope my writing helps you in some way along your own journey of faith.

      1. Lori Meuse Connell says:

        Love you Clay

  4. Lori says:

    I agree with Lydia. Clay, you are an amazing friend and human being! So many great memories and I feel so proud to have you as part of my tribe. Love, love, love you! <3

    1. Clay Rivers says:

      Lori, you’re much too kind. I wrote this post with the intention of letting my family and friends know how amazing I think they are. It’s not often that we take the time to tell those who mean the most to us how they’ve impacted our lives. And know that I’m equally as proud of you and love you!!

  5. Brian Cook says:

    This was fantastic. I think I will upgrade my subscription to the “Clay! All Access!” level. Please bill me accordingly.

    1. Clay Rivers says:

      Glad you enjoyed this Brian. I’m sure this brought back many memories which involved you. And for the record, your subscription package has been updated to the newly instituted Platinum level. (This goes beyond all access.)

  6. Lydia Winkeller says:

    I think, sweetie, that there maybe a reason why you have such amazing friends. Because YOU are an amazing friend! You give me love when I need it, a gentle but firm nudge to do the right thing when I’d rather not, and footies when my feet are cold! And so much more! And I love you for it. So very glad you are in my life! <3

    1. Clay Rivers says:

      [blush] Lydia, thank you and the feeling is mutual. <3

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