Last week a friend announced that he and his family were going to be moving soon...pulling up anchor after 11 years in Brigham City, and heading back east. (Why is it always back east and out west?) I threatened to make my next posting about them if they went forward this fool notion. And not being one to back down on a threat, here goes.
Besides bumming me out, the whole thing kinda got me thinking about how life gets divided into these "chapters," usually divided by some life-upsetting event...a stake we stick in our personal timeline that becomes a before and after reference point. It can be happy or sad, planned or unplanned, a deep loss or a new adventure. Sometimes a mixture of all at once.
The place we hang our hat at the end of a typical day often (but not always) defines these chapters. Back in the good (?) old days, people didn't move around so much. People were born in a town, lived and worked, and died, in the same town. Now, people get itchy feet after a few years. What gives? I suppose I can't sit in judgment; I've moved around a lot myself in my adult years. From Richland to Tacoma to Mexico to L.A. to Costa Rica to Pullman to Alberta to Richland (again!) to Miami, to Utah, to Israel, back to Utah...and every place with its own set of realities and people in my life and likes and dislikes.
But I digress. (I notice that I often resort to philosophizing in order to avoid emotional issues.) The fact of the matter is, I was unprepared for just how much the news of my friends' imminent move would affect me. It was terribly inconsiderate of them to not take this into consideration when making their decision.
A year and a half ago, this news would have made me sad, to be sure; but more in the sense of a vague regret for not having gotten to know them better. Maybe we'd have a few laughs at some final gathering, then they'd go away, and life would go on.
But last year Jeremy and I found ourselves in a small collection of guys that together shared a difficult journey. I think it was my first real experience of developing "foxhole comrades," relationships forged in the fire, that are real, honest, and life-giving...and rare. We spend lots of hours and pots of coffee (very good and strong coffee I might add) talking and agonizing together about the hard stuff that was going on. We also laugh and joke and pray together, and dream about ministry opportunities and share about God's faithfulness and talk about trivial things and stupid things, and brew beer. (Very good and strong beer I might add.)
We all have our own lives, so to speak, but our lives have intersected often enough, and these guys have been a significant extension of God's grace in my life. I count those relationships among the gold that emerged from the crucible.
Jeremy's reasons for leaving are good and proper--that is to say, it is by God's leading. And I affirm that (through gritted teeth, mind you). And to watch the God-seeking and faith-testing steps he and his family are taking in the process is an encouragement and an admonishment to me. Their path may not be clear; but it is sure, because of the God they serve.
Of course, I still entertain a hope that they will discover that they mis-heard God, and will announce that they're going to stay after all, and drop all this ridiculous nonsense about moving away. I hope they read this blog and come under that conviction! Or perhaps it will just remind them of all the unpleasant schmaltz and drama associated with saying good-bye, and make them want to get it over with all the sooner. (Either way, thanks, Jeremy & Brenda, for putting up with being the topic of my blog this week. And don't let it go to your heads.)
So yeah, I'm sad. And...I'm glad that I'm sad, because it means that there is something of value to let go of, and these are not just casual friendships that come and go without leaving a real mark on your life. I would wager that some day sooner or later we'll run into each other again, play catch-up, drink strong coffee and good beer; the country's big, but not that big. But still, things will never be quite the same.
I could remind myself about how we must let go and trust God, be grateful and thankful for how He's blessed us, and trust Him for one another's future and well-being...and that's certainly true and all. But I'm still sad. It still sucks.