It’s middle December. I keep asking the same question: *How* did we get so far so fast? How?
It seems like only six months ago I wrote about a stylish party on a rainy night, and only three months ago that I did this to myself.
The truth is, the party was about 12 months ago, and the lashing was done six months ago. In reality, three months ago I moved a family of five out of a sprawling apartment to squat in my in-laws’ spacious place. Thanks be to God for that.
A day ago, I moved my things back to my apartment again, and was shocked when the truck’s doors opened to reveal
junk boxes I had paid good money to put into storage when I had done with so much less in all this time.
Back to middle December. (Major moves do this to your truckloads of thought.)
It looks like 2010 will be bookended by stylish parties. The upcoming bash is on a glamorous date, New Year’s Eve, where my friends will deck themselves and be jolly in the halls of my new apartment.
I’m making the guest list, and as I check it twice, I see that almost each name is someone I’ve grown closer to in some small way. Thanks be to God.
Some I’ve journeyed with to the land Down Under and experienced life-changing moments. Some I’ve shared in milestones like weddings and these have been precious in deed. Some I’ve grown more comfortable with, the blessing of the passage of time in the same church family. Some I’ve trekked over mountains and valleys of the heart with, and come out stronger, as has the ties that bind.(Thanks be to God.)
I came across an idea I penned down a while back, along the lines of what makes friendships grow, what makes them last, and what makes them die.
As to what makes them grow, it’s that reciprocity I keep talking about. Give-and-take, of taking initiative to make connections not just once, but constantly, like a dynamo that powers the relationship and keeps it moving forward. For otherwise, friendships can turn static and stagnate over time.
What makes them die? A lack of trying. I’m not saying one has to keep working at things, though that is needful. Lots of people I know speak to each other once every several years (yes, it gets this way when you’re far older, but what the hey, a year can feel like a month these days.) Perhaps the ones that die might be the ones you wilfully turn your back on—those failed relationships, or the disconnecting for pragmatic reasons. A soul mate who has cut the ties, it seems, because of a different voyage around the sun. A pal whose priorities prescribe a different ellipse.
Sometimes a friendship has to die before it can come back to life again. From the same seed, a different leaf, a different flower.
What makes them grow? It’s the hard times. Dealing with complications, difficulties that life throws at you, and then having the determination to stick it out, knowing someone is there to pick up that metaphorical call at 2 a.m. It’s the hard times the friendship itself might suffer—be it distance, misunderstandings, quarrels. Again, that determination to stick it out always wins.
But is it really that simple? People are complex, whose hearts and minds can’t even agree. It’s got to be more than just initiative and determination. This is where God the Father comes in. If you believe, you must know that God puts people in your lives for a reason. Nothing, no one is an accident in your journey through the busy highways, the country roads, the small lanes, of your life.
Sometimes, friends bow out of your life for a while, because it’s the only thing to do, or for all the reasons in the world. Sometimes, they come back in again, because God allows them to. When the ellipses meet, when paths cross, when lives share in a community of faith, mutual affection or shared history, one doesn’t need Christmas presents.
When I think about the people who have come and gone, and then think about the people who have arrived and stayed, an all-too-familiar peace swirls around my heart, engulfs it, and I remind myself to be still.
Thanks, be to God.