I have known Jonathan since high school. Although, I do not remember actually being friends until Junior year, and even then, it was a slow friendship because we had both already established ourselves in groups of friends. Two classes brought us together though: AP US History (APUSH) and Axis. APUSH bridged the friendship and Axis cemented it. I am sure we were in other classes, but if it were not for those two classes together, I would have never met one of my closest friends to date.
To understand why those two were important you have to know that our high school has just about 1000 students K-12, 300+/- in the high school, and 109 in my graduating class. It was not like Jonathan and I had not had classes together. Because we had. It is not like we never saw each other. We had. The reality was I had a lot of older friends and was busy with some leadership opportunities in school; Jonathan was busy with running and tended to keep to himself. Our lives never intentionally intersected until APUSH and Axis.
APUSH was a small class, so we were forced to know the people around us. This was the catalyst that formed a three-way friendship that between Jonathan, Ryan, and I that still hold as the closest friends to date. We all complained about reading, the workload, the tests, and the teacher together. But more than that, we began to realize we shared other things in common, most importantly: Star Wars. That was all it took.
Axis was the class where we were forced to go to a deeper level. Since my high school was a private, Christian school, students were able to lead the chapel services (Axis) each week. Jonathan was brought on Junior year to learn lights from one of my friends who was graduating. Jonathan sat quietly in the back, learned his job, and did his job. He never made any waves but consistently did the best he could on a week-to-week basis. Having conversations with him since, I know that he was not a fan of doing lights, but you would have never known at the time.
He never said much, but throughout the year and the year that followed, I was able to slowly learn more about who he was and what made him tick. I was able to listen closely to what he said–when he said it–and begin to peel back the layers and discover he had a brilliant mind behind a quiet exterior. It took time to break through introverted tendencies, but once we crossed that line he became one of the most insightful people that I have ever known.
Jonathan has a unique perspective when he looks at the world. Most people look at the way things have always been done and do them the same way slightly modified. Jonathan doesn’t. He takes a whole new perspective when approaching a project or problem.
I think it comes from being an artist. He just sees the world…differently. He is one of the most structured people I know transforming an empty canvas into an unbelievably beautiful scene. He is one of the most thought-provoking people I know always searching for the right words to convey deeper meaning just below the surface. He is one of the most sophisticated people I know searching for meaning in places I never would have thought to look. He is one of the most futuristic people I know dreaming of what technology, faith, art, and life will evolve into.
Jonathan just approaches life from a different angle than most… and I love it.
Every time I sit down to talk or eat dinner, I always walk away feeling refreshed and challenged. There is always something new he is working on, discovering, reading about, or learning. But, what is even more important, in my opinion, is the insights he offers throughout our conversations. You have to understand that Jonathan and I are very similar. In fact, our Myers-Briggs personality tests are the same–INTJ. We have different interests but react similarly in situations. So it is easy for us to have a theoretical conversation because we both know the thought process that goes into getting us to the point we are discussing, but every time I am amazed at the insights he offers to the discussion. They may seem like they are from left field, but the more we talk and I examine I realize he has offered up an interpretation, thought, or side that I had never thought of before in a way that makes perfect sense. For an intellectual type like me, I am amazed. I think he is brilliant.
I think it is the artist in him that allows him to think outside the box the way he does. We all have friends like Jonathan. We all have people that look at situations differently and offer seemingly off-the-wall perspectives that appear over our heads but, upon further review, are exactly spot on. Hold on to these people. They will make your life infinitely more rich with their insights and perspectives. Thank them for the quirky way the view life because it invaluable to better understanding it together.
Jonathan, thank you for always bouncing ideas back and forth with me. Thank you for always challenging me to think forward. Thank you for the beauty that you bring into the world with every paintbrush stroke, typed out word, and thought out sentence. I am forever in your debt to the insights you have shared with me and the insights you have sparked in my own heart and mind. I am proud to call you my brother, blessed to call you friend, and thankful that we have shared memories, laughs, and stories over the past four years. I pray God continues to give you brilliant inspirations of creativity and beauty and that he continues to grow our friendship closer together was we pursue him. You are a true friend.