Older I get, one of the hardest aspects of life I’ve had to accept is the impermanence of friendships.
Younger, I did automatically think that my cloud of friends would just keep growing and somehow never disperse. But years have taught that friendships move in and out of focus, constantly shifting, aligning, drifting—that friendships can have their foundation in geography or projects or specific communities, times of life, mindsets…friends move away, take new jobs, lose old jobs, marry, change churches, become convinced of radically different thoughts, and of course they can die.
There are also those friendships that can go months or years without contact, and like desert seeds or hibernating frogs, when reconnected—a little water added—they spring back to life as if yesterday. But as precious as these friendships are, without day to day contact, they just can’t scratch the human itch.
As a pastor for nearly twenty years, I’d begun to feel this impermanence was on steroids in church settings—that friends came and went faster there than anywhere else. Then I began thinking maybe it was because when you’re running a business, you have friends and you have clients, and it’s pretty clear which are which. But in a church everything gets mixed together and you start counting those as friends who, when they leave sometimes without a word, you realize were more client.
Now I’m thinking it’s actually the way life is supposed to work.
After all, what is it about going to church with someone that makes you feel you’re automatically friends together for life…
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