I was in Chicago over the weekend with my life-long best friend, Chelsea. When someone asked me how long it had been since we’d seen each other, I honestly couldn’t remember since no matter how much time goes by in between visits, it never seems long. The second we start talking, it seems like we just saw each other an hour ago.
Everyone should be so lucky to have a friendship like that.
Everyone should also introspectively be alarmed by that kind of friendship.
When you have done so much life with someone, transparency isn’t an option. They see through you no matter what words you are saying or the facial expressions you are trying to pull off. While there is a definite comfort in knowing there is another person on the planet who knows you inside and out, there is also an internal hesitation the second you pick them up from the airport.
“OMG! What took you so long? Why are you sooooo late,” Chels yelled-asked me.
[I had been sitting in the cell phone lot at Midway for the last three hours waiting for her flight to land. I purposely left incredibly early so I didn’t get stuck in Chicago traffic. Me sitting anywhere for THREE solid hours is painful. But I happily did it, just as any good friend would do.]
“The line of cars waiting to get up here is about a mile long. This is my third time up here and I tried to pull over and wait by the Southwest sign, but that little guy in the bright yellow traffic cop outfit yelled at me to leave, so I had to circle back around. I’m sorry!”
Some things never change, yet everything is always changing.
Feelings of comfort and familiarity are jetted with discomfort and unfamiliarity, landing on us like a 747. This happens all in one fell swoop. It’s called relationship: simultaneously the most frustrating and rewarding thing there is.
The same person you unequivocally know to behave and react in a certain way may no longer do so. Or, maybe in fact they are responding in exactly the same fashion, but it’s you who has changed. Maybe you now see the behavior and reaction differently, from a completely different perspective. In our case, it’s called 20 years of experience peppered with things like divorce(s), cancer, empty-nesting, middle-age – you know, SUPER fun and easy life things with which to deal.
It’s also called transformation: simultaneously the most frustrating and rewarding process there is.
But transformation is ALWAYS worth it.
You can’t stay in one place, or one behavior, or one pattern your entire life.
“This Too Shall Pass.” Totally true. Whether it’s a good thing that’s going on or a really terrible season or situation, it never lasts forever. By definition, it can’t. Life moves at a frenetic pace and waits for no one. As Robert Frost so eloquently summed up about life in THREE words! (Go, Bob): “IT GOES ON.”
Yep. It does. Both here and now and…wait for it…wait for it (UGH – here she goes again! You’re still reading, so whatever)…for eternity, where we won’t even know how long things are going on since it will be unending. Can you imagine? Living outside the barriers and constraints of time and space? Um, yes please. Like I can ever fit everything I want to do into one 24-hour day anyway.
I’m sure if I did the math (44 years, 2 months, 4 days x 24 hours) I could tell you how many hours I have had on this earth to basically do both really cool stuff AND mess a whole bunch of stuff up. Without question, I have jam packed a crap-ton of “experience” into my lifetime to date.
However, the thing I am most amazed by has nothing to do with those experiences or choices or circumstances or situations. Instead, I am utterly blown away by the transformation that has occurred in spite of them.
I used to do things that if my parents (who may be reading this, mind you) found out even today, I would easily be grounded.
I used to watch or read storylines that were, um, let’s just say unwholesome, and laugh under the heading of “entertainment.”
I used to swear like a sailor.
I used to take all the words – ALL.THE.WORDS. – that you all know I’m capable of rattling off in rapid-fire succession, and tear people down who were coming at me (or, maybe actually weren’t).
I used to be much more impatient than I am now.
I used to be on the defensive instead of the offensive.
And a whole litany of other unflattering details, but I’ll spare you the minutiae.
While I do not plan on divulging any new information re: c. 1987-1991 to my parents when they are here over the Holidays, I am a thousand percent looking forward to the rest of our conversations. The ones where swearing will be absent and tearing down will not occur. I will be patient as I see them aging through my new lens of perspective. They will not be around, in this world, forever. Time is limited. Space is many miles and a lot of distance away.
During the Holiday where we collectively give thanks, I will quietly give thanks for remembering what it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
(NOTE: My old, pre-transformed self might have made fun of them for needing a second book (i.e. 2 Corinthians), but I’m a new creation now, so nothing to see here. Check back with me next week.)
Being with Chelsea last weekend reminded me that despite my best efforts at hiding information or emotions, she can see right through them. That’s both the blessing and curse of a REAL relationship – there is someone else out there who knows your ins and outs and is sitting right next to you anyway waiting for you to come clean. Waiting to see if your response will be the same as it was 20 years ago or not. Waiting to see if you have been transformed.
Even though it is incredibly difficult, that we can handle that kind of transparency with other people and not God is baffling to me. Chels loves me A LOT; God loves me that much plus a multiplier of infinitely more than I can even wrap my head around. He literally loves all of us boundlessly, unconditionally, constantly. No matter how long it has been since our last visit with God, the second we start talking it seems as if no time has gone by.
Plus, here’s the thing: God made us to be with us. In relationship. Even if we can never seem to get the ones here on earth right, that one is SOLID. Always.
TRANSFORMATION AND RELATIONSHIPS. Simultaneously the most frustrating and rewarding things there are.
Thank you, God, for the gift of both.