Godly Men – Bruce

Originally, I was planning on just focusing on men who have journeyed further along life’s path than I. But there is one guy I felt compelled to include as a major influence on my life who is only a few months older.

It is quite surprising that we haven’t killed each other or sent each other to the hospital more than we have. I broke his arm while playing on a trampoline. He smashed me in the face with a railroad tie sending me to the hospital to get my lip reattached. He was there when I face planted into the side of a hill while horseback riding and broke six teeth. I was there right after he was kicked in the head by a horse he was helping to train. No, I wasn’t there when he decided he wanted to be part of the house we were building and nailed himself to the wall, but my absence then was the exception.

My earliest memory of the two of us was us deciding to play in the leaves instead of touring Appomattox Courthouse while visiting his family in Virginia when we were both six. Since then, we have played together, worked together, built several houses together, and become adults together. I remember the excitement when my mother called me to see how to look at a picture message of him and a girl with the caption, “She said yes!” I remember about a year ago looking across the packed sanctuary as Dana Sorrow and Bruce Clayton entered into a lifelong covenant before God and their friends and became Mr. And Mrs. Bruce Clayton. I remember, a few months ago sitting in a crowded waiting area with eager anticipation as Bruce walked out and told us that Bradley had been born.

There are people whose life is inevitably intertwined with each other. Bruce and I have that kind of friendship. His mother sang at my parents’ wedding. We worked together while we were in high school. And now, we are neighbors, and best friends. Bruce is the kind of friend that will sit on a truck toolbox with you through the night and into the early hours of the morning while every aspect of a major life decision is discussed, debated, and evaluated while the bonfire that once roared brightly is consumed to ash. He is the kind of friend who will challenge me when I’m wrong. He is the kind of friend who I’m okay with being locked in a car with him, my family, and his family for 16 (or more) hours in two days. I know he is, because we have done these things, and more.

I have known the friendship of Bruce for most of my life. Now, I am excited to see him become a man. I have seen him stand up and protect his family. I have seen him keep his cool when things became heated. I have watched from the sidelines as he has become an amazing husband and father. If I can be part of the man he is, I will be doing pretty good.

“If” By Richard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream–and not make dreams your master,
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!

2 thoughts on “Godly Men – Bruce

  1. This one made me cry…brought back so many memories of you two growing up. Growing up way too fast to suit me, but I must say that the character I see in both of you blesses me, and I love you both!

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