Over the years, I’ve had to learn a painful lesson about relationships.
It has to do with letting go.
Whenever we’ve moved I’ve had to say sad goodbyes to genuine friends and generous communities, all of which have played an irreplaceable role in my life. I can write for hours about all the people who have impacted my life. I can reminiscence about all the communities that are like family to me.
The deep heart connections never make leaving easy, so I say goodbye with the intention of staying in touch- writing, calling, and making sure we still get front row seats to what’s happening in each other’s lives.
But my heart is always blissfully unaware of what actually happens, or perhaps just in denial.
Looking back, it’s happened every time.
Eventually, I will have to let go.
Not because I’ve given up on pursuing relationship and staying in touch but because I was created for in-the-flesh-relationships.
Usually about one year after settling into a new place I realize that I’ve been reaching back and clinging to the relationships I’ve formed in all the different places I’ve lived.
My heart longs for friendship, but forgets where to find it.
I forget that true relationship is found in the letting go.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe friendships can still be forged through occasional communication and the well-meaning attempts to stay in touch.
But the reality is, at some point, all friendships need the flesh to keep flourishing.
I’m not against long-distance friendships, trust me, I’ve got a lot of them. I’m not against building relationships online with other like-minded women, again I’ve got those too. I’m not saying you ignore people simply because you go through a season of physical separation, definitely not.
But what I am saying and reminding myself of today, especially in a culture that values and craves intentional community and relationships, is that what you and I are actually seeking will never be found out there or back there, but here.
I don’t like to hear that, because sometimes it’s easier to settle for simply keeping in touch, writing occasional emails, or peering through a screen to tiny square frames of their life.
Hanging on seems to be much easier than letting go.
For me, letting go brings me to a place of messy surrender and forces me to face my here and now. It is a painful kind of praise.
Letting go is me offering my present circumstances to Him instead of longing for what I had back then and there.
Letting go is placing all the people in my life in His hands, trusting that He will show me how to move forward into rich relationship with others.
When it comes to friendship, my guess is that letting go is never your first inclination either? Surrender doesn’t come simply or feel right.
My hunch is – we cannot fathom the goodness of our Father…that perhaps, in ways we cannot plan or imagine, He will sustain us and provide for us, not just back there (wherever “there” is for you) but here too.
I have a dear friend back in America, we’ve both been praying for each other to find in-the-flesh relationships where we are at. We both know that there’s a different kind of life and joy we need that comes from the friendships that happen in living rooms and coffee shops, over dinners and on walks.
But in order to find and see those friends here, I’ve got to let go of there.
In a world where we can connect with anyone literally through our fingertips, let’s never forget the art of forging relationship in the flesh.
When it comes to friendships, I’m taking some tiny steps back from the keyboard, the screen, and even the phone and choosing to connect in ways that are more messy and real.
I want the courage to do life here and now instead of then or there, to literally walk together with friends through the sidewalks of our week, instead of merely observing relationships from the sidelines of what was.
Where do you need to let go and believe that God’s goodness is more than you can imagine and enough for your today, your here, your now?