Someone said to me recently, “Tell me in whose company you spend time and I’ll tell you your future.” At my age most of my future is already my past. But I get what he meant. We become the company we keep, especially in those formative years. The company we keep can be our glory or our demise as young people, young adults, or in the early years of beginning a career. The people with whom we spend time can bring health and healing, wisdom, opportunities, or a bees nest of trouble if the company is socially and spiritually toxic. Some people are toxic and can be like the slow workings of arsenic poisoning the spirit, soul, and body. The company we seek in friendship and fellowship makes all the difference. It is a matter of what’s healthy or toxic exposures and encounters.
Thirty-five years ago, back in 1980 & ‘81, I served in an adjunct faculty position in psychology at the University of Hawaii while at the same time the Chief Administrator of an array of mental health, drug, and alcohol recovery programs. In the eight programs operated by The Salvation Army on the Island of Oahu, it was the Womens’ Way residential program that worked exceptionally well with addicted women and their children to restore them physically, socially, and spiritually to health and wellbeing. Womens’ Way diverted women from the criminal justice system into treatment permitting them to bring their children with them. A woman’s stay in the program was only temporary lasting nine to twelve months. It was artificial in not being the reality in which they would live for the remainder of their lives. Eventually the women had to enter back into the real world. But there would be variations on their real world going foreward depending on the company they chose to keep.
A major principle of the program was to help the women and their kids eventually become established in a healthy, positive social and spiritual context that would continue the process of healing and lead to complete restoration. This included avoiding the old life, the old neighborhood, and old toxic friends. It meant helping them keep company with those who are healthy, loving, kind, generous, and affirming rather than others who were like social/spiritual Ebola, toxic, exploitive, and dangerous. The company they were to keep going forward would make all the difference. It would ensure the glory of recovery and restoration or their recidivism, exploitation, and demise
At the heart of the program was introducing the women and their children to Christian faith communities. We knew that there were grace filled, Bible believing fellowships on Oahu who would embrace them, love them, and give the support that would strengthen them in their faith. The social/spiritual milieu of a church family would help them discover Jesus and accept his loving embrace. It would nurture and strengthen their faith and help them see the esteem that God has for them. The company they would keep in such a faith community and the glory of God revealed in their love would be their glory as well. The women and children who recovered from the trash bins of life would discover the love of Christ in the presence of His company. His company today is their glory. It’s all about the company we keep too! Tell me the company you keep and I’ll guess your future.
“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness
and all life will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33