“Friends, I will remember you, think of you, and pray for you.
And when another day is through I’ll still be friends with you.”
This is a song that we would sing every week at our closing campfire as girls tossed wish sticks into the fire. Over and over again until every girl had tossed in her wish. Those words haunt me still, they nestle in my heart, and they comfort me. Today once again I had to say goodbye (or “see you later”) to a friend who I don’t know when I will see them again.
We had a conversation about “family of choice” and I’m really thinking about it. This time of life has so many unique joys and challenges and friendships or your “family of choice” are part of that. For many of us we’ve gone to college and made friends we will have forever. Many of us have friends we can trace back to our origins in high school, middle school, even elementary school. Friends have been there when our family of origin, couldn’t or wouldn’t. Friends have loved us simply because we are who we are. And many of us are saying “see you later” to friends we are not sure when we will see them again.
First I have to say, it’s rough isn’t it? It’s rough when people tell you It’s going to be a long time until I see you again because I know that God has a plan for me. It’s rough when a friend says, well after this job I could be anywhere, I’ll keep you posted. It’s rough, when you have plans to stay grounded in one area and it feels like everyone wants to go.
For me I’ve found it helpful to lean on friends who are staying, to deepen friendships that maybe you haven’t paid as much attention too. I’m also doing my best to try new things and open myself up to new opportunities. To enjoy my own company. And I’m also making efforts to keep in touch through Facebook, email, phone calls, and of course the old fashioned letter (who doesn’t enjoy a good letter?). And I pray. A lot. Jesus really understands what it’s like to have your friends leave you (and betray you for that matter!) and what it means to be lonely. We always have a friend in Him.
So I don’t have too much to offer, I’m still sorting it out, sometimes it makes me want to give up on close friends, because it feels like they always leave eventually. But I know that is poor and fearful thinking, I don’t let it win. I think that’s in part why I am the marrying type, it’s awesome to have a deep connection with someone and know they will be there always (until death do you part). Yet, I am also so proud and excited for those friends. I’m glad they are going after these jobs, these mission opportunities, creating new homes in places beyond. It’s thrilling. I’m so glad to be a part of their story. I’m so glad I can call them friend. I’m so glad their leaving makes me cry because it means I love them. And love is always worth it, even when it hurts.
How have you dealt with geographic distance in friendships? What are creative ways you stay in touch? Are you the friend who is going or the one who stayed?