I’m proud of my friend, Eric.

Awhile ago I had a professor (we called him “Coach”) who would periodically write Facebook notes that began, “I am proud of…”  He then proceeded to talk about his former students and how proud he was of the lives they were living.

Out of the thousands and thousands of students he worked with throughout his career, he could only highlight a few, but they were stories of Good News that highlighted the amazing things young people were doing in the world.  I liked that he did that.  And I’m going to borrow a page from Coach’s playbook.  I have a lot of friends who are doing amazing things in this world.  I can’t highlight them all, but over the course of the next few weeks I want to highlight a few.  I am so proud of my friends – young, old, and in between – who are making an incredible difference in this world and are inspiring me to reach higher in my own life.

To kick things off, I want to tell my friend Eric how proud I am of you.

Eric and I have been friends since the sixth grade when we met at Walnut Creek United Methodist Church.  We went to school together, were a part of Tiger Basketball together (he a manager and me a statistician), played intramurals, served in the church and on mission trips, and have been in each other’s wedding parties.  Eric has become a brother to me over the years, and I am so thankful for him and his family.

Eric has always possessed an inner confidence that I have too often lacked.  He took risks, got involved, and was always true to himself.

One day after driver’s ed I think it was, I was waiting for my dad to pick me up after a meeting or sporting event.  My dad, at the time, drove a pink car.  He still argues that it was “Coral Mist” but I don’t think that helps his argument very much.  I was embarrassed to be picked up by my dad and his infamous pink car, but my embarrassment was only exacerbated when Eric waved goodbye and shouted “I love you!”  I still laugh as I remember sinking into my seat, wondering if the girl I liked or friends I was trying to impress took in this whole spectacle.  But I also look back with a warm heart and marvel at Eric’s genuineness.  He has always been comfortable in his own skin and I’ve always admired that.

Eric has always had a servant’s heart.  He served in church.  He served on mission trips. He served as an All-State manager for our high school football and basketball teams.  He went on to be a football manager in college and has been a tremendous worker wherever he’s worked.  Eric never complains, but always serves faithfully.

In college and continuing to this day, Eric befriended a neighborhood child who faced unfair and difficult challenges in his life.  Eventually this young boy came to live with Eric and his amazing wife.  Why?  Because that’s just who Eric is: true to himself, a servant, and a man with a God-sized heart.  Eric and his wife now serve, in addition to their full-time jobs, as parents for http://www.safe-families.org/.

When I told him that he was a “good man”, Eric simply and genuinely replied: “Not to me be the glory, but Jesus himself deserves it all.”  And again I learned another lesson.

I am so proud of my friend Eric.  He inspires me to be a better person and a better follower of Christ.  He inspires me to be confident in myself because I am a child of God.  He inspires me to be a better husband, father, and friend.  He inspires me to be a better man.

Thank you, Eric, for who you are.  You are a good man, and I love you.

From your proud brother,

– Jared


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