People come into our lives for a variety of reasons. Some of them stay for a while – call it a season – leaving after a few days, a few months, a few years. They come into our lives with power and grace, divinely purported, placed in our lives for a special segment, perhaps to show us, teach us, invite us to better know something special.
We live extraordinary lives with them just as we do with people we’ve known much longer. The newness, the excitement, the connection. Some of the best examples I can think of are the friends we made in high school. Or those in college. Or those early in our young adult years. We experience transition. We experience change. And they happen to experience those very same changes right alongside us.
Maybe your seasonal friends came into your life when you moved to a new city, started a new job, played on a new sports team. Every one of those things happened for me. I moved to a new city, I took a new job, I started playing on a few new sports teams.
Some of my seasonal friendships happened rather quick. We knew each other from college. We liked the same books. We worked together. We lived together.
Others took longer to develop. A few moved fluidly from reason, to season, to lifetime.
He wore tie-dye and buzzed around campus on a Razor scooter. We bonded over Gonzaga basketball and our home state. She adopted me into her big Northwest family. We drank lots of coffee together. He was in seminary. We loved Manito Park and Rocket Market. She shuttled me around after surgery. We frequented Little Man Ice Cream and talked for hours in parked cars. He and I went to the same church. We talked philosophy, religion and technology. She and I were in the same grad program. We had a mutual affinity for dancing.
The first type of friendship, those that happen fast, are sometimes also fast to finish. Priorities change. Interests develop. Better niches, better communities are discovered. Those friends come into our lives for a season. Undoubtedly, they are there for a reason. And, when that reason meets its end, so too often does the friendship.
Friendship, by its very nature, involves the give and take of information, of emotions, of ideas. It involves a shared experience. Or many shared experiences. It involves a great deal of trust, of vulnerability and of the willingness to be a part of someone else’s everyday.
When that willingness falters, or the give and take becomes all give or all take, the friendship as it previously existed will not survive. It is at this point that the two parties involved must decide, both independently and dependently, if and how the friendship will continue. And many times, by no specific fault of one or the other, the friendship dissolves. It lived its reason, it lived its season, it fulfilled its mission.
I’ve struggled with this idea for a while. I’ve lost friends who were in my life for what seemed like a worthwhile reason, some whom it seemed were around for far too short a season. When he left, it hurt. When she left, it hurt. When they left, it hurt. When friends leave, either by their own will or by some extraordinary working of the divine, it hurts. If it didn’t hurt, it would mean we were never really friends in the truest sense of the word.
I shared parts of myself. They shared parts of themselves. In the very act of being friends, we discovered more about each other, and, quite possibly, a whole lot more about our own actualities. We individually and collectively learned about our likes and our dislikes. The things we can live with and the things we can live without. The negotiables and the non-negotiables.
Many times these things differ. Sometimes those things are the same.
And when you find that “same” – the shared ideal, the shared goal, the shared dream, the shared philosophy, the shared faith, the shared life plan(s) – that is when those friendships move from reason, through season and into lifetime. Those are the “me too” moments. Those are the “let’s keep doing this thing called life together” moments.
Cherish those. Celebrate those. Thank God for those.
Lifetime friendships do not negate the shorter-lived friendships. Each one of those friendships carried within it something unique, something divine, something you needed, something he or she needed. You gave them something that only you could give. They gave you something that only they could give. Give great thanks for that.
And pray for him, pray for her, pray for them. Pray that they too might find that “same,” that they too can experience the joy and the grace that comes from finding a lifetime friendship.
Lifetime friendships are hard to come by, but not impossible. They require a special kind of willingness, a special kind of vulnerability. But when the time is right and the chemistry on par, and the stars aligned and the friendship blessed, it will happen. You will find yourself smack-dab in the middle of a “lifer” conversation. And, if you keep working at it, keep discerning, keep investing in those types of friendships, you may well find yourself amidst a whole gaggle of lifetime companions.
Reason, season or a lifetime, the people in your life are not there by accident. Give great thanks for those people you once knew, those you know now, and those you will know in the future. God is sure to show you something pretty spectacular in each and every one of them.