“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down!” Oprah Winfrey

So I got invited out this week for a day of beer and song at our nations capital of Cardiff. The guys who invited me were a small group of comrades who I once attended school with, who have managed to maintain their friendships over the last 20 years. I felt privileged to have been included in this ‘wolf-pack’ for the day and was overwhelmed to see their affection, love and honesty with each other. As the day wore on I realised that the depth of relationship that these guys manifested was pretty special and I also realised that to have built and maintained this close bond that the guys have needed to thresh some stuff out! There was an honesty and a vulnerability which manifested amongst them which was humbling to watch and which inspired me yet again that reality in relationships is more than possible. By the end of the day I was fully convinced that what these guys had fought for and developed was the real deal and I had no doubt at all in the potential for growth and longevity in their relationships with each other. It was pretty powerful to have been a part of it!

I’m beginning to realise that many are beginning to desire and to cry out for honesty and reality in relationships. I’m also starting to see that people are beginning to wake up to the true value to be found within close friendships. This ‘value’ was obviously recognised by Jesus as he drew to himself 12 of life’s regular Bods and later called them his ‘Friends.’ For Jesus this appreciation of friendships seemed to rank higher than calling to himself 12 of the most prominent faces in the nation who could offer him a foot on the ministerial ladder. Jesus obviously wasn’t looking to further his career on planet earth and seemed more interested in opening up a picture of oneness amongst humanity than opening up a few significant doors of ministry for himself. Later in life he suggested to his followers that greater love had no man than the willingness to lay down his life for his friends!

I’ve been blessed to have known and to still know a measure of these types of friendships. Yes at times I have screwed relationships up, yes at times I have failed to realise that it’s more important to actually love my brother than to fight my corner for right over wrong! I guess this is the fruit of ‘how’ relationships have functioned in the past, I mean so many relationships are purely based upon the need for theological agreement in order to flourish and that once guys start to question or to think outside of the theological box and relational remit the pressure becomes unbearable and splits happen. Yes I have certain regrets (as I’m sure that we all do,) as I remember potential opportunities for great friendships which were ruined because of the pride and stubbornness that we all too often manifest! In saying all of that, I’ve also had the privilege of enjoying the full blown reality and of eating from the glorious fruit which grows as hearts are willing to go on a journey together in vulnerability and honesty; The beauty of nakedness and openness shared by individuals who have nothing to prove and who are looking to gain nothing other than deeply drinking in the affection felt for each other. Sadly too often the relationships that people build are based upon and around a system which is doomed to fail and which leaves us without the freedom to truly be ourselves. Way too often friendships are built upon a shared mindset of scratching each others backs in order for the relationship to thrive. Often as Oprah stated once the Limo runs out of fuel the friend has no desire of continuing the journey on the bus! Friends with benefits, certainly not friendships ‘that’ benefit! When I came out of Big Brother in 2010 my phone melted down! I mean every man and his dog wanted a ride in the illusionary limo of success! Hilarious! Now I sometimes wonder if some of these guys still have my number or care to remember the ‘Dave of 2010!’

I know that people are desiring true and open friendships. I continually have guys asking me to host more gatherings, not because people want another meeting, but rather that they are desperate to see old friends and to revive old friendships. Maybe I will organise a few gatherings in the future, they will have to be different to what I have known so far and will need to have a strong focus on friendship, relationship and on the corporate ability to share ‘as a body of people.’ I have known this reality in the past, those who have read my book will remember me sharing about the 18 month period in my life where a handful of us enjoyed a unity and an honesty which was beyond words. This honesty made our community work, it was a foundation for openness that brought healing and made for something to manifest which although was very raw was also very glorious. Off the back of that 18 months I realised that together we have the power to heal, release and to transform but only when our friendships are rooted in vulnerability and honesty. I also remember my time spent years back with Emerge Wales and more recently with The New Ecstatics. These times were powerful, partly due to our commitment to relationships and friendships with each other. Yes some of those relationships drew their strength from having a corporate desire and focus and yes looking back I realise that maybe there wasn’t a great openness to honesty and vulnerability, YET the focus amongst us was definitely one of desiring a true foundation of relationship over ministry.

One thing that I’m now beginning to realise is that for us to all enjoy the fruit and longevity of friendships that my mates manifested on the weekend, that we have to be willing to be vulnerable, open and honest with each other regarding how we feel. There has to be a place in relationships where the value that we place upon honesty and vulnerability is paramount. A place where we can confess whatever we want to each other without feeling that our confession will be detrimental to our friendship. A place where we can share our queries, concerns, questions and lifestyle errors and know that our vulnerability won’t be a catalyst to damage our friendships but rather to enhance them! There are no meaningful relationships without the freedom to not only be ourselves but to also manifest difference and diversity. I think it was Jim Morrison who said that his best friends were those who allowed him space to be himself! Sadly the demise of many friendships is due to the lack of openness to thresh out issues and express how we truly feel. Friendships will not thrive where the shit swept under the carpet makes it a small mountain and where there’s so many elephants in the room that it makes it impossible to breathe! I’m longing for the day where friendships will not only survive but will thrive in the midst of our differences because of our commitment to each other and our appreciation of the need for honesty and openness. I’m in no way suggesting that I’ve arrived at this place, I still get offended, at times I find myself being easily hurt, YET being with my friends on Saturday I realised yet again that this unity, vulnerability and honesty is possible!

Just a few thoughts guys, Love you lots! Remember that my new book ‘Tales from the Couch’ is available on Kindle and via my website www.thenewecstatics.co.uk Thanks to all who have now submitted about 40 reviews on Amazon and to all who have bought bulk copies to give away! You guys amaze me xx