This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately: seasonal relationships. No, not the relationships you have with family you only see during the holidays—although I’m sure there will be plenty of blog posts written across the internet about that particular topic; I’m talking about the temporary nature of people in our lives.
Growing up as a military brat gave me a unique perspective on friendships. Sometimes I feel like a total weirdo—mainly because most people around here have lived here for their entire lives, sometimes for generations of the same family. I’ve found people with this kind of locational permanence tend to see friendships/family as forever. I have to admit that when I was a kid I went through a phase where I just gave up on having friendships: what was the point of getting attached when we were just going to move again?
It was—difficult to convince myself of the benefits of having a temporary closeness. But somewhere along the way, I realized that all our relationships are temporary: People move away. You might move away. People stop wanting a relationship or get too busy to have friends (by the way, that last one really should be a blaring alarm in your life—if you’re too busy to have friends, you’re too busy to grow). People move on with their lives without you. They grow and change in ways that can cause relationships to fall apart or fade away. Hopefully, you’re growing and changing and that can sometimes put strain on relationships. Even if someone remains faithfully involved in your life the whole time they’re alive, they’ll still stop being around when they die until (if you both know Jesus) you die too.
Relationships here on earth are temporary so why invest?
The picture that came to me years ago was the idea of seasons. God puts people in our lives for seasons. Lord willing, you have some people who are in it for the long haul—your spouse, a close friend, other family, etc., etc., etc. But not everyone is going to stay forever. Every person you come into contact with can change you though. And the closer their relationship with you, the greater their ability to affect you is.
I have this picture of playing pool: if all the balls represent different people, your trajectory in life can change because of someone else. It’s a double-edged sword. The people we’re closest to are the ones who change us the most and hurt us the most.
Avoiding relationships can keep us from growing and make us pretty lonely. But expecting them to last forever can create some other problems—relying on people instead of God, for example. For me, I’ve found that the balance lies in reveling in the relationships I have when I have them—being open enough that they can change me and I can change them—but also being able to let go when the relationship changes for whatever reason. It can be a little scary because there’s no guarantee of how long the relationship will last and I choose to be aware of that fact and accept it. But no matter how the relationship goes, if I stay surrendered to God and let Him use it in my life, it’s never a waste. I’m always someone different because of who I interact with.
What about you? Have you noticed that people come into your life for seasons? Is that idea a comforting one?