6.30.2007

long distance runaround

"So far away. Doesn't anybody stay in one place anymore?"
-Carole King


"Nobody said it was easy. It's such a shame for us to part.

Nobody said it was easy. No one ever said it would be this hard." -Coldplay, "The Scientist"

"...God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'"
-Hebrews 13:5 (b)

I feel I'm in a strange place in life. Seems many of my closest companions have already left or are discussing plans to leave the area in the next few years. These aren't just acquaintances, but people with whom I've preferred to spend my time. And it's not just a few individuals but a large chunk of friends.

Some go for jobs. Some for seminaries. Some for wanderlust. But it's kind of like my hometown, the place I grew up and never really had plans to leave, is just a crossroads for everyone else on the way to the rest of their lives.

Now I always try to rely on the Lord for whatever plan He has for me and everyone else, but I must admit this is starting to weigh on me lately in many ways. I saw some of it coming, but not all, and I guess I'm just considering what this means for my future as well.

I spent a lot of time when younger, especially college days, distancing myself from others. I wasn't a Christian then, and became quite good at maintaining a self-fashioned "wall" to protect myself from rejection. Ironically, I actually faced a lot of rejection upon becoming a Christian, when friends and family had no idea what to make of the new me.

In the past ten years, I'm thankful to say the wall has come down, and I've founded some pretty solid friendships. All the harder, then, now I'm finding many of those disabled by distance.

Another irony lies in the fact that a lot of my friends now have kids. I have no desire for my own at the moment, but have sort of "adopted" friend's kids, and in back of my mind hoped to watch them grow up. So when they go, it's particularly difficult, especially with younger ones who aren't as likely to remember me.

I've also been part of this ongoing social experiment we like to call "the internet" for many years, and I find it both a help and a detriment. It can be helpful for keeping contact with old friends, and in meeting new people from all over the world. The detrimental part is, well, now I know all these people who I either can never meet or only get to see every few years. "Knowing" someone via the web, no matter how close you feel, can never replace in-person contact.

(Top all of this off by the fact I just learned that someone I was just getting to know online, my age and mother of a not-quite-2-month-old, recently died in an auto accident. At least in this instance I actually found out what happened. Not always the case.)

Interestingly enough, sometimes I think it actually makes things more difficult meeting long-distance friends in person. I have good friends in England we only see once every few years, and I just met with a group from several states who pretty much only visit every year or two, money permitting. It's always just so weird to say goodbye after spending time with people for a few days.

So a lot of us have the internet and snail mail, but once you meet in person the whole dynamic changes. A new bond forms. And suddenly it stinks you can't just pop over to hang out or watch a movie (which I wish everyone in general would just do more anyway).

Now humanly speaking, all this may be incredibly upsetting at the moment. But in analyzing all this from a Biblical perspective, hope actually abounds.

First off, that verse at the top—God will not leave us. That's number 1. We can be completely cut off from the human race, but He's always there and knows our need, which first and foremost is Him alone. And if my focus remains on Him at all times, I'm going to find things a lot less difficult to deal with in the end.

My second consideration is something I think we Christians really need to get hold of. When we say "goodbye" to our brothers and sisters in Christ, it's not forever. Even if I never see them again in this life, we can know we will meet again. I notice a clearly stronger bond with my close Christian friends. How much impossibly stronger will that bond be in eternity, in the presence of our Lord?

Granted, this does raise concerns for non-Christian friends, of whom I have many. But I realize all I can do is try to share who Jesus is, pray for them and trust the Lord in His decision to draw whomever He will to Himself. Even in this, our hope lies only with Him.

So I'm glad to see just some of what He's teaching me in all this. Who knows? Maybe the Lord is clearing my social calendar for new horizons. And I know the things we go through here in this life are defining moments through which we can study what the Lord is teaching and learn to trust Him more.

Praise Him for always being there, even if no one else is. Praise Him for allowing believers to remain with Him forever.

"And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.'"
-Revelation 21:3-4

Related:
the summer of our discontent

1 comment:

Catherine said...

So very true, Sarah. As one of those friends who has moved away, I'm reminded again by your blog that we really will meet again, even if not in this life. That hope has held me afloat as we've packed up and left the only life we ever knew in St. Louis and all our family and friends whom we love and miss dearly. Thank you for the reminder that we have a GREAT Savior who loves us and is with us, no matter where we go, even, and especially, when it's far from home!