I was in Honduras a few weeks ago, and some of you may know. One of my favorite things about the trip was just getting to spend time with the different people there. There were a number of people about our age that helped out at the mission, so it was an incredible pleasure to be able to work alongside with them and to laugh with them and to speak fractured Spanish. On our last night in Honduras, our team climbed into the mission's 15-passenger van with some of the Hondurans in order to take a few of them home. As the van crawled through the uneven, broken roads in Tegucigalpa and the guys we had been spending all week hopped out to go to their houses, a sobering thought hit me. These guys were leaving. I knew that I would see them for a little bit a church the next morning before we flew back to the U.S., but for the most part, our time together was coming to an end. It felt like as they were exiting the van, they were exiting my life, and that's pretty sad, I think. It's similar to how I felt while on camp teams last summer. I absolutely loved getting to work with and build relationships with college students from other schools' teams, but it was always a little harrowing at the end of the week when we would part ways. You spend a week seeing each other every day and building memories, and then it's over. And I knew that I would see a lot of these people again, but it still bothered me nonetheless.
On that van ride in Honduras, I thought about how our social lives are sort of like a big van. The passengers consist of everyone within my social sphere at a certain time, and they are sitting at different locations within the van. There are people who crammed into the same seat with me, those with whom I am especially close. And the intimacy begins to decrease the farther people are from me in the van. And, just as in the church van on a Jr. High trip after a stop at QT, the passengers don't sit still. Rather, they move all over the van throughout the trip, constantly switching seats. So for a while I might be close to certain people, but then they move a little farther away and others take their places, and there is this perpetual ebb and flow of how close I am to people as the van drives along. And, perhaps sadly, sometimes someone gets out of the van altogether, no longer being part of my social circle in more than an acquaintance-level relationship.
As life rolls along, these relationships change for a number of different reasons. Maybe a person is sitting next to me for a while, but then they see someone else they want to sit by for a while, so they move seats, and after a while I seem so far away anyways that they just hop out of the vehicle. Or maybe a person moves away or dies, so it's like the van door breaks and they just fall out. Or maybe I just tick them off enough after a while, so they prefer to hurl themselves out the window instead of staying in the van with me. But not everybody leaves the van. There are some who have been in my van my entire life, and they will remain there till one of us are no more. Others joined up partway through my life, and they'll probably stay for a long time. Perhaps others were right next to me near the beginning, but then they found another seat slightly more distant and are now cozy there.
I feel like I'm making little sense. I was just telling someone about how, when I begin writing a blog post, I generally start with half an idea and hope that it forms itself into a complete idea by the time I'm done. I've just been thinking lately about how relationships change over time. It happens in all of our lives. Chances are that your best friend when you were seven isn't your best friend now. That girl you fell in love with in middle school isn't your wife. But on the other hand, maybe that dude you couldn't stand two years ago is now one of your closest friends. Levels of friendship are always in fluctuation. I've experiences this even in my three shorts years at Ozark. Thankfully, there are a few guys on my floor that have always been there, and they have provided with with a very sturdy relational base. But beyond that, things are always changing. People I hung out with a lot freshman year now only get an occasional "Hey, what up?" as I pass them in the hall. Guys on the floor get married and end up in that mysterious land where we rarely hear from them again.
The road of life necessitates change. And many of those changes occur in the relational realm. Maybe we need to recognize this. A lot of people try so desperately to hang on to the same social position they had in high school, so they never mature or meet new people or expand their boundaries. But at the same time, perhaps we treat too many relationships too flippantly, not willing to put in the work to sustain a good relationship.
If you somehow liked my metaphor of the van, I have another metaphor that relates to social life: the ski lift. However, that one will probably remain unblogged, but for the right price, I might tell you about it if you ask me. Depending on where you're sitting in the van.