The older I get, the more I realize the importance of family and friends. I’ve not always made them the priority I should have.

As my career started to grow, there were times my priorities got out of whack. My family and friends are the cream of the crop. At this point in my life, I look to them more often for guidance and direction. The decisions I make are no longer what is just best for me. It’s important I think about the affect it has on those I love. I won’t make large decisions without the input of those people. This includes the opinion of my little girl. There was a time that Mama started asking my opinion after Daddy got sick. I give her the best answers I can while feeling her wisdom is far beyond mine.

As I’ve aged, I’ve done the same thing with my daughter. She’s done a hundred times better personally and professionally than me at her age. At my age, I still want my Mama’s approval. But I want Lindsey’s too.

This past week I had a lot on my heart and mind. Sometimes things in our life get too big for us to handle alone. Life has taught me that it’s okay to reach out to others when the load gets heavy. I’m not talking about life and death stuff some people are facing. I’m talking about everyday stuff. My life is blessed beyond measure and I haven’t lost sight of that. God has blessed me richly. Some of those riches are in the form of family and friends. So, I picked up my phone and called my friend Roger Garrison. Roger and I have been friends for 40 something years. I worked for him for close to 20 of those years. We hit some rough patches in those 20 years. I don’t think it was ever personal. It was the nature of the business we were in. I told him I’d like to get together for some life advice. There was no hesitation. He asked if lunch the next day was soon enough.

The great thing about a real friend is that you will always get the truth. Sometimes the truth can hurt. When he hired me, it was clear that he wanted me to tell him what he needed to hear and not what he wanted to hear. That wasn’t always fun for me. But it was necessary. He’s always done the same for me.

After explaining to him the dilemmas I was facing, he sat back and thought for a minute before offering his advice. I won’t go into detail. That’s between us. However, I will share with you the words he ended with. He said, “Do the Christian thing and be kind. You can’t go wrong.” We’d had hundreds of conversations over the years about too many subjects to remember. In this moment it dawned on me that we aren’t kids anymore. His words stayed with me all afternoon. I would have teared up if I hadn’t fought it.

When I got home that night, I told Mama about our conversation. Mama said she was so glad we had that conversation. She then told me how proud she was of Roger for his wisdom and for the friendship he has given me all these years. She went on to say that it’s too bad that everyone doesn’t know the Roger she knows. Lots of people knew him as the Sheriff. Very few people know the man.

Ellen DeGeneres was bashed by some for being seen with President George Bush at a Dallas Cowboys football game. Some wanted to know why a gay Hollywood liberal would sit with a conservative Republican President. She responded, “Here’s the thing; I’m friends with George Bush. In fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have. We’re all different and I think we’ve forgotten that that’s okay that we’re all different. But just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be friends with them. When I say be kind to one another, I don’t mean only the people that think the same way you do. I mean be kind to everyone. Doesn’t matter.”

Sounds like the long version of the advice Roger gave me. Do the Christian thing. It will always be kind and it will never lead you wrong.

Chris Collett is a longtime resident of Cherokee County.

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