How Could You? / by Michael Nichols

Preliminary notes: 1, I'm titling this entry as a question, the first time I have done so; 2, I'm actually going to talk about myself and what's going on with me instead of being overly philosophical (GASP).

A decision comes in every persons life. This decision is not an easy one, but it is an inevitable one. It may not even be obvious, but hindsight will make it crystal clear that you have made a decision that you were not consciously aware of because you did not want to assume you were capable of making such an atrocious decision over something so fragile: friendship.

We don't even think about it at first, but every single choice we make pushes us in and out of alliances, groups us and regroups us, both uniting and dividing us. It happens. We are one big chemical reaction in a social cauldron that our culture has decided to use to cook up its potions. Inside this concoction, we aren't always aware of the chaos that surrounds us, but we are aware of the chaos that surrounds us personally - well, usually we are aware of that, but I'll get there in a minute.

I could beat a dead horse, ranting about all the different feelings and thoughts that ensue the making and breaking of acquaintances, friends, and more, but ... (I point at the preceding cliche...) I think it's safe to say that everyone has experienced love and loss, or at least seen it coming from a distance.

The thing that is so agonizing about the whole thing is that you have absolutely no control over what people do. I don't care if all your friends are 100% genuine and 99% perfect, nor do I care if everything has been staged from day one, people standing as spectators to watch you rise and fall and/or vice versa. People are going to do what they do regardless of what you say or do, be that they pin their heart on their sleeve or a script in its place.

At the same time, it can be such a joyous thing (especially for those of us who have experienced the stark reality of loneliness and the darkness that is the world that we have unfortunately as a race handed over to idols and the ideas they represent) to experience relationships, be they family, sibling, romantic, platonic, whatever. It can remind you that you've truly never been alone and that you were made to see this moment of beauty, where nothing and everything collide, and a connection is made, one that you hope to never lose.

This, readers, is the message I have to send: we choose who we lose. It may not be always, but in the end, we have all been there. We walk through life like it's nothing, and sometimes we walk through it like it's quicksand, every step pulling us closer to our inevitable doom. We walk into it with some who make it through with us at the end, and there are some that we lose along the way. At the same time, we pick up others as we wander, people who have either become separated or plainly rejected. Some of those people are serpents in disguise, damage waiting to happen. Some people still have absolutely no clue how to even handle people. They don't get how to be a friend in the simplest sense of that, so God help whomever they marry. We run from others still who threaten our safety. We also underrate people. How unfortunate. How arrogant. We save some people, and sometimes we just don't make it in time. Some of us are just along for the ride. Often, we find ourselves stranded... and how do you choose? How do you make that call? How is it that you explain to someone that they're going under the knife whether they like it or not?

Look, don't get me wrong, sometimes you have to create distance for your own protection. Sometimes, it's to sort through things. But when you look back at the past four years of your life...

When I look back at the past four year of my life, I cringe every time. The beginning of 2009 was when I truly began to own up to my life and try to be responsible, take care of myself, not let people push me around, not let people discourage me, rely as fully upon Jesus Christ as I possibly could. I got out from under my own roof, moved in with my grandparents, began a new relationship with a new assembly of Christ-followers, graduated high school, and turned a very icy shoulder to everyone who ever screwed me over. I had most of my thyroid removed later that year. Dreams that I'd had somehow spilled through to the waking world. I had numerous crushes, none of which I really pursued. I did end up in a relationship with the one I actually did pursue, but then I ran that into the ground. Let's see, then I got my heart ripped from my ribcage, shown to me, put back, and run from. A few months down the road, I finally had taken all I could, stopped running after the things I wanted... really just stopped in general. Conversely, I ran away from everything that hurt.

At that point, I didn't know how to hold a relationship or even a friendship, and I was convinced it was my fault. Well, there's always plenty of blame to go around, but I definitely started learning a very important lesson about people: they happen. They come, and they go, and - here's a thought - maybe they aren't all conspiring against me, and maybe it's not my fault! I'm not saying I'm faultless by any means, but rather that people leaving my presence isn't necessarily intentional nor is it directly related to something I've done or some ugly aspect of myself.

Two years later, I realized that running away was a huge mistake. I did the exact thing that everyone who was running me through with shards of shattered glass was doing for themselves: just trying to get away from the pain they had held onto for so long. I didn't realize that part first, and that was definitely not the most important thing I learned.

I've been guilty of handling lots of my relationships (that means friendship and romantic relationships) very poorly (which sometimes means simply not handling them or dealing with them at all) during these four years, guilty of a lot of the obnoxiously vague beginnings and endings of acquaintances I described earlier. I've really made an idol out of my relationships in general, what people think of me, how I feel about life, and that's not okay. Yes, they are important, but more important is eternal destiny, the Messiah who died and lives again to provide eternal hope for us, and the people on the other end of the relationships, than the relationships themselves, not to diminish the importance of healthy relationships.

The main thing that I realized is that we simply don't have the time - sorry - I simply don't have the time or energy to waste caring what people think, missing opportunities to make friends or keep them, or even worrying that I did something horribly wrong or am just hideous and will be stranded in a very lonely place for the rest of my life. First of all, God has a better plan than that for me. I know it even if it doesn't always feel that way. Second of all, hope lies more than in friendships on this side of death. There is another place where no harm can come and any separation we experienced here becomes an official non-issue. If that's not true, I and the rest of humanity are doomed to an extremely bleak and brief existence. "Friends forever" takes on a whole new meaning there.

Until then, I can't afford to let my longing for closeness overwrite what hope I have in eternity. I've had these idols for way too long. It's taken this long to realize that, and I can't afford to turn back now, although I'm sure I'll fall on my face a few times, or fifty...

...thousand. Haha.

I guess that, until then, I'll just live my life and not give up searching for someone who can love me as much as God helping me to be capable of loving them, because I can assure you that I don't really love well. I'm not waiting to become as good as Jesus because we're not capable of that. I won't deny that some nights I writhe both in the memory of things past and impatience for things to come, but I know I can rest in the fact that Jesus is God the Provider, and when He knows it's time, everything will be okay...

... as in phenomenal...

... as in... hmm... words are too lame to describe it. Oh well. Rant over... for now.

[Insert some new signature here. I haven't figured out what to put here yet, though. Oh well. :P]