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changing relationships

This weekend, I attended the wedding of a seminary friend in Virginia. A beautiful ceremony - the message, focusing on making sacred space, was extremely moving. (My apologies if I haven't responded to emails and comments you've left this past week - I'm getting there, eventually)

The wedding, along with a few other gatherings I've been part of recently, has me thinking about relationships and change in relationships. In Chicago this week, I had the change to gather with several friends from Ohio Wesleyan, and last month I also saw seminary friends at Drew.

I think that change in relationships is one of the hardest, most emotional things to go through. I suppose this is true, in a way, whether the change is ultimately viewed as a positive, desired change or not. I think back on my life about friendships or even acquaintances that I've had in my life, and I can't help but want to at least know what has happened to some of the people that just aren't a part of my life anymore, for one reason or another. Where is that kid who moved to Florida when I was in grade school? What happened to my fifth-grade teacher Mrs. Laitres who moved away mid school-year? What became of my senior dance date? I wonder, often, despite generally disliking my CPE experience, what happened to all the babies who were in the NICU after I finished my summer as a chaplain. Are they all healthy and strong toddlers now?

I feel a sense of sadness, a sense of loss, when I realize that some friendships won't last for years and years beyond the season of life in which they were so important, so central to everyday life. Our lives are always changing, and some relationships don't survive change. This realization sometimes has the unfortunate effect of making the memories of the friendship somehow tainted to me. Maybe it shouldn't be so, I'm not sure. But changing relationships are certainly a reality of life.

I guess, then, the strongest relationships are the ones that are sustained wherever life seems to take both people involved. In Chicago, I get to see one of my best and longest friends, who I went to high school with, and college with, and will probably end up at school with again someday. And at Christmas, she'll be here, back in Central New York. Our friendship certainly hasn't been free of struggle. We've spent a good share of time mad at each other or driving each other crazy through the years. But I think we've transcended into a place where I know she'll always be in my life and I will always be in hers, whatever changes life brings.

So, I wish for my friend and his new wife, as they begin their marriage, that they experience the kind of love that sustains them and blesses them through all the twists and turns that life brings.


Jason D. Moore said…
I know what you mean...
Randy said…

I've often had similar thoughts. It saddens me that so few of my friendships have been long-term. In High School, I had a circle of very close friends, and we couldn't imagine life without each other. But I haven't spoken with anyone from my high school in, what, almost twenty years?

My sister Laurel is my only lifelong friend. We don't talk as often as we should. We are both just so busy (both in grad school, both parents of small children, etc.) -- but we are so spiritually connected that our love transcends any distance of space or time. It's like we can each sense the emotional vibrations of the other.

Your post also has me thinking of my relationship with Jesus. My relationship with him changes over time. I am going through a period of deepening that relationship as I am seeking to know him, to really understand what he is about. I have usually related to Jesus as both my Lord and Savior -- and he is both -- but our relationship seems to be transcending that kind of paradigm and moving closer to one of friendship. It is almost as though he is saying, "Yes, I saved your life. You're welcome. But get up and come with me; I want to show you something."

Behold, new things have come.
Anonymous said…
when friendship ends ... I've written, cried and lived this and I hate it.

I hate it too when friendship drifts, ... it's as if a part of me dies

I wish it wasn't so, but to pretend it's otherwise would be a lie

I love deeply and let go reluctantly. Is is a character flaw?

I just don't know :(
Leslee said…
How your words speak to me. I too have a couple of those close friends that never leave you. Then there are the friends you think about everyday until one day you don't think about them everyday anymore. I can't remember the poem I read in High School, but the last line went something like this, "Good-byes will be unspoken..." and whenever I become seperated from a friend I think back to that line and wonder if this was one of those unspoken goodbyes.
LutheranChik said…
Whenever I find myself woolgathering about what the world to come might be like -- I always think I'd like to find all the people I've known and lost, the way you lose friends over the years as your situations change, and find out what happened; how their lives turned out.
Andy B. said…
Very nice post. I find myself just sitting here and thinking about friends I once knew. Thanks, Beth.
St. Casserole said…
I wish I knew about people through the years. When I go to reunions (college, high school, seminary) I don't even recall who people are.
I'm happy about most of my friendships through the years, though. Good post. Thanks!
Anonymous said…
It is sad. I can think of a lot of people without much effort. On the other hand, I have a couple of friends that I could not see for five years, but yet be able to pick up right where we left off. A lot could change, and that may not always be the case with them. I should not take that for granted.

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