Moving is a difficult thing. Sometimes you move to a different house in the same city, or to a nearby city, but sometimes you move across the country — or across the world. No matter what, moving means change.
Friendships change, people change, and I change.
This is something I had to learn young. When I was seven, we moved from Maryland to Ohio. And inevitably, ties with my MD friends were weakened and severed. Suddenly I had half a dozen long-distance friendships, which were slowly replaced by new friendships here in Ohio. I’m still dealing with some pain from that, but at the time, it was okay. The church here was so welcoming. I was young and eager to make friends. In fact, I believe I have made some lifelong friends in my time here. (But who knows?)
When we moved to Kentucky for half a year when I was twelve, things changed once again. We were thrust into a necessarily tight community of men (and their families) coming to learn how to be pastors in an intensive school year. We only had seven months together, none of us knew many people in our new city, and we became something like family in that short time.
And when we came back to OH, again change was waiting, because everyone here had not waited for us to come back but had continued in their lives. We had to adjust, knowing that we would probably never see many of our KY friends again, and had to throw ourselves back into the routine of Ohio church, school, weather, relationships. To this day, I am hardly ever in contact with most of the people from MD and KY. And that’s something I’ve had to accept. It’s so hard. I am a fiercely loyal person by nature, and I want to hang onto relationships as long as I possibly can, and when I can’t, something inside me changes. I have had to learn that very few friendships stand the test of time. I know that’s a lesson learned naturally in life — it just feels like moving was the accelerated course.
Places change and grow in my memory. As years pass, I remember more little random details about my childhood in MD. I remember the boardwalks, the ocean, the rhododendrons, the afternoon walks, the carpet in our house, the dandelions, the shopping trips. These are sweet memories, and I long to visit MD again, but I know that being with the people won’t bring the memories back. In fact, someday I want to go back with some of my new friends and not tell any of my old friends. I want to go to the ocean just to see it again. I’ll make entirely new memories. I’ll see the Chesapeake Bay again and have ice cream and wade in the salty waves. And while I’m at it, I’ll visit Kentucky too. I’ll go to church and peek at my old backyard and take a bike ride and visit Churchill Downs once more. (yes, it’s important to see my old friends again, and I love doing that! but not in this scenario.)
Sometimes I can get so caught up in the memories, the sadness. I MISS EVERYTHING SO MUCH! But I know that because of the hardships of moving, of having few real friends every time, of leaving people behind, of forgetting things, I have gotten stronger. I’ve learned how to say goodbye, and I’ve learned how to treasure where I am. And I’ve been given unique friendships with people who have moved as well. Yes, I have known loneliness and pain. But those are pretty essential things to know as a human. I’d say God knew what he was doing when he moved my heart around!
Not everything lasts forever. But we can learn some amazing things when seasons change. Unlike the constantly shifting winds of this world, our God is UNCHANGING! And he is transforming us from glory to glory!