“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”–Thomas Aquinas
It’s Sunday night, and I’m reflecting on a great weekend, with much of it surrounded by fantastic people and quality friends. But a few years ago, that circle of friends would have looked very different.
You see, for many years, I was one of the fortunate few to work with and live in close proximity to some of my favorite people, who also happened to be some of my closest friends at the time. In Orlando, that idea of proximity is rather important, since people can be spread so far around the city. Getting together often takes intentional effort, multiple attempts, and a pair of accommodating schedules. It’s glorious when the stars align like that.
But back to the story: life was great having friends close by until they all decided to move within about 18 months or so of one another. And not just move down the street or to another part of town. But to Dallas and Colorado and California.
Because I’ve always lived within a 2-hour radius of my original home town, the majority of my friends and family were always close by. I never had to develop the skill of keeping in touch despite many miles. While this spared me early heartache that often comes with multiple moves when you’re growing up, I reached adulthood without really learning what it meant to miss people.
Sure, I had friends from college that I had lost touch with. And my best friend from college and I haven’t lived within 6 hours of each other since 2006. But it wasn’t until the last few years that my network of friendships began expanding much outside of the southeast. Perhaps this shouldn’t have been so noteworthy, considering how transient a place like Orlando is, but I digress…
As one who values stability and quality time as a primary love language, this exodus of friends was a bit startling. Staying in touch became much more intentional. No longer could I walk across the street (literally) for a pizza night. Or randomly have lunch together and laugh at the absurdity of the Twilight series.
But just as God has proven time and again, He is faithful. He knows what we need and who we need around us in life, and I’ve seen him provide those new relationships and friendships both in my life here in Orlando and in the lives of my friends as I’ve had the opportunity to visit them and see what life has become for them in the places they now call home.
Whether through church or small group or work or whatever, God knows the people that we need in our life, and I’m convinced he moves them in and moves them out according to his plan. I’m still in touch with all of the friends from the exodus, and I see them as much as I can. I don’t see that stopping any time soon. But I also had to make the choice and the effort to invest in relationships here. That’s not easy for someone like me, but I love the people that He has connected me with.
I still miss the times we had, but I recognize those as a season–not the standard. I’m learning that growth requires seasons, and God has people for us to invest in and people to pour into us. It may not always be how I would have orchestrated, but it’s probably better than I could have done. Probably.
“A friend love at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17
What about you? Did you move around a lot growing up and have friends in lots of different places? Or do you still have life-long friends that live close by? If you have friends and family far apart, how do you stay in touch with them, and how important is that for you, or for them?