I envy my seniors. Their class of seventeen is the largest our school has graduated–ever–and while its size has been cause for some consternation as we deal with the logistics of our end-of-school activities, I envy them the “Cheers”-like intimacy (minus the bar) that has been theirs. Consider that my senior class had 500 students and people within it who I never saw or met, and you can see my perspective.
Driving through my neighborhood these past months also has made me envious–and a little annoyed. To get onto a main road, I drive past a cluster of houses and yards that are perfect candidates for a photo spread in Better Homes and Gardens. These do-it-yourselfers who have managed to build beauty in their homes–and in their friendships with neighbors in the process–and the result is that I must drive with care. They park cars on the street (pet peeve), which aggravates me, but the real issue is they are outside with their children and dogs, walking their children and dogs, crossing the street randomly to talk with one another, and allowing their children to ride small toys on the road. Theirs is the family-friendly, garden variety “Cheers.” While having to drive so cautiously annoys me, what annoys me most is the envy I feel as I drive through.
I want my own “Cheers” experience. You know the theme song’s chorus:
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Looking at my senior class or that section of neighborhood with envy, makes me feel cheerless. This morning, however, I walked into my step aerobics class and heard a chorus saying, “Sara!” (Followed by my instructor’s “It’s a good thing you’re here. If you didn’t show, I was going to put you on my list” and “I’m going to put Sara under the bus today!”) Ahhh. I could feel the love. Really. My instructor was teaching a new routine; I’m only available to attend on Mondays, and he wanted me there to learn it, especially as the class already had two days of training without me. And as I began exercising, I thought to myself, “I’ve found my ‘Cheers.'”
I was concluding that the instructor, Bob, would most likely be the bartender, Sam; delightfully loud and bossy, my classmate Rosie would have to be waitress Carla… when I realized that I had more than one “Cheers” in my life. I certainly would have to say that the school where I work is a “Cheers” to me (albeit no bar, no beer, no leisure, and no time to just converse). But it is a place where I am happily greeted, even by my students, where everyone knows my name, and where our troubles are shared.
In fact, as I look back on my life, I see that even while nestled in a high school class of 500, I managed to have my little “Cheers” groups within my classes at school and my youth group. I then attended an all-girl liberal arts college, with a student body of 350 and lived in suites and dorms with girls who became my best friends. At my four-year university, pursuing my bachelor’s, I was active in Campus Crusade for Christ and found in it my small “Cheers” group of friends on a campus that at the time was 35,000 (now much larger). When I worked at the local newspaper, my department developed close friendships.
I have found my “Cheers.” It’s not a bar where I have a reserved seat, though we aerobics types typically have a spot considered our own. It’s not where I go after work to unwind; it’s where I go to work and work out. And it’s not even one place or even one place in time.
Perhaps like you, I long for small-town America, where everyone has the “Cheers” experience. I want to know friends and to be known by friends, and I rejoice in the little contact I wedge into my too full days. Those “likes” on Facebook or on my blog posts, the comments I get: they lift me up. I thought I was just a praise junkie, but I realize it’s deeper than that. It’s that desire for contact and deepening relationships. A feeling that people notice when I show up at aerobics or if I don’t show up for work (may have to try that one to see…).
Of course, I have a friend in Jesus, which means I have a traveling “Cheers” with me wherever I go. In John 15:13-15, He said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends…” I love that Jesus is my friend, but I also love that He places such importance on friendships.
It’s like the “Cheers” stamp of approval. What is your “Cheers”?