The Gift of Loyalty

The Denial of Saint Peter, by Caravaggio
The Denial of Saint Peter, by Caravaggio

“So, who would you like to be your best man?” asked my lovely fiancée. I responded, “In third grade I told my best friend, Zeb, that when I get married I would like him to be my best man.” (Yes, even a planner at that young age). Clearly she was surprised as she asked, “So when was the last time you saw him?” “Well it’s been a couple of years, but I always call him on his birthday,” I replied. “So do you have any idea where he is?” “That,” I said, “will be the challenge.” And it was. Thanks to my mom connecting with his mom, I was able to learn that he was logging deep in the woods of north Idaho. All of that, frankly, was the easy part. The real challenge was actually trying to get in touch with him. Persistence paid off and the day before our wedding he showed up dirty, unshaven, with a wild mane atop his head.

I felt a great sense of accomplishment in locating him. Yet, what was even more rewarding was how genuinely touched he was that I would not only make the effort to locate him, but more importantly that I stuck to my third grade pledge. For me, however, it was a no-brainer. Zeb had always been a loyal friend. He faced significant family challenges at an early age, but through thick and thin we stuck together.

I place an extremely high value on loyalty. Truth be told, for me it is the highest relational quality. To be able to endure through life challenges, or to be under great peer pressure from others, or even to hold polar opposite opinions… still remaining faithful to the relationship is truly a gift.

Every time I read the story of Peter denying Jesus, I think about loyalty (Mt 26:31-35, 69-75). I cast no judgement on Peter. The fact of the matter is that Peter and the other followers of Jesus, especially the women, were incredibly loyal. However Jesus’ loyalty both to his Father and to his followers was unsurpassed. Even when Peter denied Jesus, Jesus kept loving Peter. This, frankly, is good news for me. To know that Jesus’ love and loyalty supersede my shortcomings in our relationship is both reassuring and inspiring for me.

I am absolutely blessed to have an abundant cadre of family, friends, and colleagues with whom I share a mutually loyal relationship. It is life giving to have companions for the journey who are going to stay with you through thick and thin… including Zeb.

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