I have had lots of heartaches and disappointments when it comes to friendships. These things can make me hesitant, at best, when it comes to investing in new relationships. I find myself struggling, wondering if it is worth the time and effort….wondering if (or, more accurately: “when”) this person is going to just move on with their life, making new and better friends, not even remembering I exist. And, it can be hard saying goodbye to someone who has become a new friend – never knowing if I will even ever see them again. And with our not-so-normal lives (always traveling, always at the whim of others as to where we will be, when we will be leaving, how long we will be gone, etc.), I am confronted with these things a lot. There’s just nothing that you can ever count on to be the same from one day to the next. And throughout my life, I have had so many friends who have moved on in life, or moved away, or walked away from the Lord and, consequently, didn’t really want to hang out with me any more.
All that to say….I have a hard time opening my heart to people. It might surprise you to hear me say that, but it is true. I have lost so many friends, that I have a tendency to put up walls in my heart to not let myself get too close, or too attached, so that “WHEN” they leave too, I don’t have to deal with the hurt, and the loneliness.
And so, I have learned to turn off my heart. I cease caring. I don’t want to risk loving. And yet….lately, I have felt so strongly that Jesus has been asking me to let myself love people. And, more, to let HIM love people the way HE wants, through me.
A New Perspective
The other day I was thinking about friendships that had formed, but where God was calling them elsewhere yet again….and, with a bit of grumbling, I asked God, “Why, Lord? Why do we always have to say goodbye? Why does it seem like I can’t ever have friends who stick around? I don’t want to struggle so much to love people, but…aren’t I kind of justified here, in the way I’m feeling? I mean….look — you don’t see any friends here, do you?”
But God just started speaking to me, and gave me a really sweet perspective. I’ll do my best to try to explain.
He showed me that every moment I invest in a friendship here on earth translates into eternity. Every moment spent loving someone is a moment — a memory — that transfers into Heaven. If I spend just one afternoon loving someone, and making memories with them, and then never see them again on earth during my lifetime, I will STILL recognize them in heaven. And not only will I recognize them, but we will have an instant, meaningful connection that is a deeper connection than with just about anyone else there — because we actually spent time together on earth. As little or much as it may have been, it is still a touchpoint that we will have between us forever. A memory together that goes “way back”.
So God was gently showing me that I don’t have to be afraid of investing in friendships. In fact, each opportunity that I take to pour into someone, and to let myself love them fully will reach into eternity. Loving someone is never pointless or a waste of time, but each time I let myself love them, a bond of friendship that can’t be taken from us is nurtured…and in Heaven, we will meet upon some side street sometime, and immediately have that bond — that connection — from our moments together on earth, that goes even deeper than with all of the multitudes that I never knew on earth (granted, I’ll probably meet them all eventually, and probably become close friends….but there will still be that special connection with those I loved on earth). And we’ll be just as comfortable to run out to a quiet field somewhere to catch up on the past several hundred years, and where God took each of us, and what happened when we were apart.
And it is just so sweet, because there is no time limit on heaven-bound friendship, like the friendships of this world have. And, being creatures born of this world, we so often feel that same press of time upon us…..that feeling of there being a real end of our lives, and the struggles that come with that — including the struggle of feeling like you’ll never get to see someone again if they move away.
But for those of us who are heaven-bound, we can rejoice that there will always be a “later”. We don’t have to grapple to cling to a friendship on earth, or melt into a puddle of despair when friends leave us (or we leave them), because we have been blessed with an eternity on the other side of the toils of this life, where, when our labors to rescue souls have come to a rest, we will have all the time we could ever want to be able to spend with each and every person there. We can rejoice that, no matter how many years pass on earth without us meeting, there will always be a “later”. We WILL see them again.
And for now, we can rest in our mission to rescue lost souls…..and not just to rescue them, but to LOVE them…..and thus, to be able to greet them in heaven as well, as dear friends — with a shout of joy and a big, big hug!