Now that my life is settled in one city, I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on all of the leaving that I’ve done over the past two years. To be honest, I think leaving is a really hard thing to do well. I don’t know how I would grade myself or my efforts on doing this well…and how I feel about it matters very little I guess. I wanted to put down some thoughts about leaving and also share some things I’ve been thinking about my past now that I’m not there anymore. Does that make sense?
I was looking at some pictures of a some friends from years past…they were together and we have long since gone. I saw their relationships and how they have been able to carry on over time. I was envious. I was happy for them, but I was sad that all of the leaving in my life, accompanied by arriving at new places with new relationships (that my justification for being bad at staying in touch) has fragmented a lot of friendships. While some people may romanticize a nomadic or often changing life, I’ve realized that it is really overrated. There needs to be a balance between being constantly challenged by new situations, and by being stuck in a rut. Both of these can hurt us maturing more fully. If we are never challenged to grow or adapt, then we miss out on how these things can form us. But if we are constantly changing and adapting we miss out on being in lasting community, and dealing with issues that can come up only over time. Not to mention that if leaving comes to easy, there might be something else going on. Am I running? Are bad relationships pushing me away? Have I not dealt with something I should deal with?
My new place of perspective gives me a chance to see old situations in new ways. To possibly re-interpret a scenario in light of what I’ve learned about myself since the event actually happened.
In one case, I have realized that a friend was telling me about something that was really cool, wanted me to be a part of it, and invited me into it, but I couldn’t hear him because of other things going on in our relationship. I couldn’t concede that his idea or invitation was really great because it would mean that I would have to give up some of my ‘rightness’ about other aspects of our relationship. The reality is that in a Nouwen book I was reading tonight, Henri was sharing about his experience at the very same place that my friend was trying to invite me to years ago. As I was reading about it, it hit me, “I could have learned a lot from these people if only I had accepted the invitation from my friend!” I missed out on being able to be a part of a unique opportunity because of my pride…and I missed out on learning more from my friend as well.
There are many more experiences like this that I could write about. Lessons I’ve learned about my own fear of taking responsibility for my own life, lessons about growing up, dealing with conflict, but this would end up really long. I guess my reason for sharing this stuff (other than just to write on my blog again) would be to challenge you to look back on the past seasons of your life. Look back on the choices that you made and the relationships that have gone well and not-so-well….we have a lot to learn from the experiences that God has given us. And more often than not, now that we’re away from our past, we’ll see more and more how God’s grace has covered over so many things!
The important part for me now is to remember to practice in the present what I’ve learned from the past. My good and bad experiences are all being redeemed over and over to equip me to live well in the present. If we’re not going to find healthy change in the present by looking at our past, then we shouldn’t bother looking back at all.