Since I was eighteen, my life has been made full by the Christian friends that have surrounded me.
From roomies to study partners to teammates that were with me 24/7, these friendships have been deeply enriching. They resuscitated me, put color in my cheeks and a song in my heart, even on days when they were extremely humbling or challenging. These friendships shaped my character, my very soul, and the trajectory of my life. These friends have taught me more than you can imagine about life and love and relationships and fashion and cooking and work ethic and dancing and so on. I could not list it all.
But of all things, my friends have taught me so very much about the Lord that I would not know Him if I had not known them.
It turns out, this current season of my life is markedly different than the past few because of one thing: my isolation from these beautiful friendships of mine.
As sometimes happens, Life has blown us in all different directions. Like dandelion seeds being scattered in the wind, we have been strewn across the big state of Texas, into the corners of nearly all the States, and even across the great oceans of the world into far off places and time zones.
Some of us ended up where we always imagined we would, while others of us are in the place we least expected to be. Most of us are not where we’ll end up forever, but all of us are fighting like hell to grab ahold of our dreams and do something big with our lives.
It’s lovely and so encouraging to see photos and read emails and have late night phone conversations about the lives of my friends from across the globe.
But it’s also so extremely difficult to see photos and read emails and have late night phone conversations – but rarely sit before them, touch them, look them in eye, hug them and be hugged by them.
Have I mentioned how much I love making forts with my friends?
I miss Duval House forts the most
Nearly every.single.friendship I’ve ever had is now impaired, to some extent, by physical distance.
I never imagined how difficult that would be. And I absolutely never imagined that the Lord would do such a thing.
I know that God values community because he himself exists communally: the Father, Spirit, and Son. And I know that scripture talks endlessly about the necessity of the Church living and working together. Even “secular psychology” suggests that humans aren’t meant to be alone. And while I’m not fully alone in life right now, I still feel such a strong and overwhelming void that you might only understand if maybe you have also known such an absence.
I’ve asked the Lord, sometimes with a lot of anger but mostly with exhausted confusion, what he’s up to in all of this. The answer I have consistently heard is this:
I want to be your friend, Emily.
The Lord can be known in different roles – as a Father, a King, a Lover, a Healer, and so on. I have known him very closely in many of these ways. But not often or primarily have I considered my relationship with him like a friendship. That looks like a different kind of intimacy and familiarity than what I’ve known and practiced in the past few seasons. But it seems that a friendship with God is how I first began to know him, and perhaps it’s time to return to the feelings of those first few years.
I guess this season of my life, from the outside looking in, seems to have a scarcity of friendship in the day-to-day. And yet, I think this is actually a season dedicated to Friendship.
I don’t have it all figured out, and I still wish my friends weren’t (at least) 75 miles away. But, I think I’ve sort of flipped over a stone here, and I’m starting to see the patterns in the moss.