Since being married we have moved often enough to make it tiresome. And in my short life thus far I have loved far too many people who are stretched across this globe.
I hate moving, for so many reasons, but aside from all the packing and unpacking, calling utility companies, and finding new running routes, what I hate most about moving is the dynamic of friendship.
I have made some wonderful friends in all the places I’ve lived and visited; some have continued and deepened despite the miles that stretch between us. Others have quietly ended like a peaceful death in sleep; I don’t regret those friendships, I think they had their place and importance in their time, and when I think about them it’s only with a grateful heart and the hint of the ache of loss.
Despite all these wonderful people I have come to love I still struggle to open myself up to new friendships with each move, especially with the knowledge that we will move again, and again and again, until this medical school thing is finally over (and maybe not even then, because who knows what we’ll do after).
I struggle to embrace each friendship I have without jumping to the future. The biggest challenge in perpetually moving is being present. Living right now and investing in the people who are around me today. I am always tempted to pull away, to ease the ache of loss by never fully committing to those near me.
It’s difficult to make a friendship when I know that will be one more person I will miss. One more piece of my heart I will leave in yet another place. Because right now I have pieces of my heart in a small village in Malawi, and a church in Oxford, and a tiny orphanage in Cairo, and a church in McMinnville, and with people scattered across the states. And it always surprises me that when I allow myself to invest in another person I have another piece to give. But I suppose that’s the point of having my heart belong to my God, each time a piece is doled out to someone, Jesus puts mine together with new pieces with the glimpses of him I see in each relationship I’ve had.
I often get distracted by the pain of moving, the starting over, yet again; but then I remember how faithful God has been. With each move and each place I’ve travelled (and had to leave), he has time and again shown me that each moment has it’s value, just in itself. That summer spent in Malawi is now an eternity in my heart; that day spent in a convent orphanage in Cairo will exist forever in how it changed me, and all the people I have come to know for long or short periods are all captured in that same eternity. Because God has shown me who he is in each of those moments and reminded me with each time of letting go and saying goodbye that all I need to feel whole and at home is him. In each of those moments he shows me eternity, how small words and connections can imprint my heart forever.
And so, when my heart breaks a little from the pieces I have to leave behind with each goodbye, I look forward to the hellos and the new pieces that will be put together. I look forward to seeing how my God continues to weave the tapestry of life so carefully and gently with love between people and joy sweetening the sorrow.