I’ve been blessed (or in less religious-sounding terms some might say “lucky”) to have an army of amazing influencers in my life. Family, friends, mentors – the layers of love and support are deep and wide, and I’m truly grateful.
Two of those people came through Indiana last week – Mandy and my former youth pastors, Dave and Jen Hull. I’d like to say they came just to see me, but their oldest daughter happened to marry my brother Darren, and rumor has it they had a small bit of influence on the visit, too (at least that’s what we’re telling them).
We sat in a restaurant booth for hours reminiscing about youth outings and summer camps, the time my wife and her friends got in trouble for making each other pass out on the back of the church bus, and how often my buddy (and now kick-butt European missionary) Todd got thrown out of the youth services for misbehaving.
It was such a beautiful time of reconnection. Of remembering the messy, imperfect, yet rich soil our roots are planted in.
Mandy and I both have great families, engaged godly parents, but Dave and Jen provided another layer of hope and stability to our developing teenage psyches. Their home was open, their counsel was free, and their lives (and food) were always shared. Mandy and I are stronger because they’re part of our story.
I’ve heard that kids need a minimum of 7 appropriate, nurturing adult relationships to grow up emotionally healthy. My childhood was an embarrassment of relational riches, but for far too many poverty is more than just a lack of financial resources. They’re missing layers.
Which got me thinking. We can’t choose our families, but there are more than a few things we do have some say in.
Who are your Dave and Jens?
Who are your kids’ Dave and Jens?
And perhaps most important of all…
Who would call you their Dave and Jen?
I’m so grateful for the layers of relational wealth that have underwritten my life. I’d take the wisdom, hope, stability, and security they provide over dollars and stock options every day of the week.
How about you? Who are your Dave and Jens? I’d love to hear about them.