Change is inevitable, but that does not make it any easier. I notoriously do not handle change well, and I sure do not like it. Circumstances constantly shift and morph. Life goes in seasons that ebb and flow between jobs, friendships and communities.
There have been times in my life filled with friends and times where friendships seemed scarce. But in the last five years I have been incredibly blessed to live within nine minutes of a large community filled with great depth. This specific group of people bonded more deeply and more quickly than any other I have known outside of high school or college.
We serve together, teach together, have experienced weddings, breakups and deaths, traveled cross country multiple times, laughed, skipped rocks at Skiatook Lake and just all sat in a room not really even talking. This group of people gets me, encourages me to be me, knows all of my mess, pushes me to Christ and calls me out, which I both love and hate. We are not perfect and have not always handled things well, but we have chosen to stick together.
To me, this crew represents Christ’s faithfulness. I spent many years in this city feeling alone, but God knew exactly what He was doing. He drew me closer to Him, deepened my trust and blessed me with this weirdly unique group of odd people. This group of individuals represents an answer to my prayer. I have many valuable friendships outside of these people, however this crew reminds me that God does not forget me. But this group is starting to “break up”.
It started two years ago when two people moved away. I began to internally lose it because, well, change. I did not like it at all. When we celebrate a birthday in Tulsa, we facetime the people not in the room. Not quite the same, but it works. There have always been more people in the room than on facetime. Over the summer, that all changes. Our little group of attractively athletic, weirdly competitive nerdy people starts to move away. First, two people left because of jobs, family and new adventures. Now, two more people move back the Pacific Northwest, another moves for a job and one more moves for love. Another gets married, which adds one to the group, but changes the dynamic I am so comfortable with.
I find myself wanting to hold tightly to this group. I do not want to let them leave. I do want any of this to change. I want to beg them to stay, to keep what we have. What if we are never together again? What if I never have friends that understand each other like this again? What if it is never the same? Why can’t we just all move together? These should be group decisions! But they are not.
After high school, I felt this way. After college, I felt this way. If you hold tightly to community and do not let it change and evolve, you kill it. We are not called to stay comfortable, we are called to seek Christ. Each person leaving or who already left sought Christ and His plan for them. I am still not alone. God has and will provide each of us with exactly the community we need, the community He is preparing for each of us.
Those leaving, our friendship will change. I won’t live with Christa and go grocery shopping each Sunday or constantly quote How I Met Your Mother in our adorable apartment that is so easy to live in together. After five years filled with hard things, joy, laughter, themed party throwing and binge watching all the shows, she moves on to new things. Josh and I will not be able to get each other in trouble in adult situations with one look (and I won’t have to constantly keep my hand over my cup in fear that he has thrown something in it). He serves as my surrogate brother day in and day out since mine lives so far away. Amanda will not give me the greatest hugs at least twice a week or always be a five minute drive away to sit and create with while we have life-giving conversations. Kris left long ago, but he is dearly missed still. He is not here to talk me through how to safely help a stranger, make waffles every Sunday or weirdly hold everyone’s hand while praying. Emily no longer lives in the strange add-on room above me in the cute house. I do not get to constantly hear her laughter and wise words as we try to catch Skittles in our mouths in the kitchen. Haley will not be here to randomly walk into my apartment and tell me the best stories. Or so kindly and thoughtfully discuss life with me. All of these people leaving overwhelms me. It breaks my heart with such bitter-sweetness.
On one hand, I am scared for what next year holds. Many of my people are still here and I am beyond grateful for them. But all of these friendships I value and treasure so dearly will change. They will look different. That hurts, but it needs to happen. If these people stayed simply for the sake of community, we would be unhappy. Our group would not be healthy.
So, “see you never”, Kris, Emily, Christa, Josh, Amanda and Haley. Nate, BB, Jordan, Becca, Holden, Mallory and I will hold down the fort. Birthday facetiming traditions will look different, but just like everything else, we will figure it out. And soon we will all eat Burnco, play frisbee soccer at the bama field, build an illegal fire at our spot and watch for shooting stars late into the night together while we plan for the next robots vs. wrestlers.
Longing to hold on is like chasing a lightning bug in June. You admire them, you catch them in a jar. They light up the room. Then, you let them go because no matter how many holes you poke in the jar, eventually the lightning bug will die. If I keep my friends in a jar, they too will die. We have to be free to go where God needs us, where He calls us. I have to let my friends go even though it hurts. Though our friendships will change, it is not over. We will each have to figure out what exactly it looks like from afar, but I am sorry folks, you cannot get rid of me by moving away. You are stuck with my friendship in some capacity, forever.
No matter the changes you inevitably face, know change breeds life. Without it we stop growing. Your change may look different than mine, or the same. Your big change might end a relationship, start a friendship, move overseas or move back home from a far away land. A hard season may end or a beautiful season may shift into a hard season. You may feel all alone, or surrounded by people you love. No matter your circumstance, no matter what you currently face, without the discomfort of change we will not fully know the beauty God holds for each of us. Though hard, uncomfortable, uncertain and challenging, let these times of change push you to Christ in new ways, even when it sucks.
One of my all-time favorite views, shared with some of my all-time favorite people.