My kids have recently started asking lots of questions about my childhood. They want to hear stories of exciting quests and the names of all my childhood pets and the names of my best friends. I get bonus points for misadventures and tales that ended in disciplinary action.

It’s been both nostalgic and a little cathartic to share these stories. Going back to the days of my youth has caused me to realize the beauty of my childhood and likewise the beauty of the opportunity that our kids have during these days of quarantine.

I’ve always had it good in the friend department. I don’t know why, but I’ve always been fortunate to be surrounded by some of the very best people. They are great for the sake of themselves and those they positively affect now, but they’ve also just been really great for me right when I’ve needed them.

It’s interesting to me to notice the defining qualities of an aging friendship. I’m not sure that anything tells you more about yourself than to spend a little time with someone who “knew you when.” Those people who knew you when you “wore your hair that way” or the friends who stuck by your side when you thought for sure you were going to become a “fill-in-the-blank.” You may actually appreciate them more because now you can retrospectively see how silly you were and that they stuck by your side nonetheless.

Those are the kinds of friends we all want and we all need. The ones who allow us to flourish in our uniqueness and let us spread our proverbial wings. I’m not completely sure what it looked like, but I bet that’s the kind of friend Jesus was when He walked the earth with His disciples.

I think emotional health comes a lot easier when you have people in your life. People who have your back and know your best and worst traits and choose to love you anyway. I had those friends in high school, college and I’m so thankful to have them today.

My wife and I try to raise our kids to see how important it is to choose good friends and we’ve made it one of our most frequent prayers that God would give them relationships that allow them to be encouraged and challenged, stretched and molded to look more like Jesus.

I’ve tried to make it a habit during these strange days to purposely tell my friends how much they mean to me. There may be something about the frailty of life or the sudden change in circumstances that has caused me to pause and remember the beauty in my people.

Maybe you are like me and you are wealthy in the friend department. I’m humbled and thankful. Maybe you are still searching for those who will stand by your side through thick and thin. You’ll get there. Don’t settle. Just make sure you are looking for the ones who treat you with the same flavor of grace that Jesus does. Their grace won’t be perfect like His, but if they love Him and love you, you’ll notice that there is nothing more pristine and valuable and wonderful than a good friend.