It’s good for the soul to admit that you’re wrong every once in a while. And as I sit here on my balcony on a warm, Friday evening, spring has finally come. The wind rustles through the trees and the soft, incandescent blue sky seems to reach well beyond the city, to a pot of gold somewhere or perhaps, to just another rainbow. Tonight, it’s almost easy to acknowledge my mistake. I just can’t remember her name.
I do remember she had blond hair and came up to my shoulder. And her laugh. I remember how the sound of her laughter would tug at me with the soft residuals of wind chimes… sparkling, delicate and strong. Laughter is unique to every person. No one laughs exactly the same, and if a woman’s laugh has the right timber to it… for me, it is irresistible.
After high school, we dated for a while. Not long. Perhaps three or four months, after which I ended it for some reason or another. I regret it now, and can admit my mistake. But when you’re young you often suspect that the next girlfriend, the next friendship, is right around the corner. And with all the parties and outings and planning and growing up, the next one usually is. Until sometime after 30…
That’s the same day you wake up and realize that you’re an adult. That the future is now. That you actually have a past, parts of which you don’t quite remember. It’s sometime around then that you realize that the next one was actually the last one, and when you try to move forward like you did when you were younger, it becomes extremely difficult. For some of us, it’s because of our families, our spouses and kids. For others, it becomes tougher to move forward because the optimism that marked so many of our younger years has been replaced by growing cynicism. The troubling experiences of broken friendships, break ups, divorces, and the general realization that in the search for the NEXT one, there’s a good chance you’re going to get hurt.
And yet, this search… this endless relational quest… is what drives all of humanity. The most powerful thing in your life is the relationships you forge around you, and what you do with them. They define your character. What you become. Who you are. And yet, most of us rarely think twice about them. Most of us are more worried about paying the bills or the house or our weight or something else.
I say this because at 34, I am still looking for the next one, or if you prefer, another one. Another friend. Another relationship. I am human, and this will be my pattern until God takes me home. But while I am looking for the next one, I want to be careful to maintain, to develop, to restore, the relationships of those I’ve met through the years. And my close friends now.
I'll be honest. I haven’t always been good at this. At times, I've been downright terrible at it.
I regret the times I took for granted my friends and family. I never realized how important they were. I never realized how easy it was to hurt people I cared about simply by not following up. Much of our soft North American character, as well as our loneliness and sense of abandonment, comes directly from our apathy towards the people around us. Our unwillingness to open up, to share, to give, to respond. Women are generally better at this, but I am convinced it is infused within a Western culture that is more concerned with security than intimacy, which is, of course, a great illusion. When people are poor, they understand that the ‘security’ we give ourselves, through our money, our education, our books, isn’t real, and they have a better understanding of community because of it.
My hope, this week, is that we’ll become more aware of the most powerful, the most redeeming, the most important thing in our life. Go see your friends. Put down the remote. Don't work so much overtime. Stop cleaning so often. Call your mom. Give your wife some flowers. Take him out to see a play.
I believe we go through this life once, but along the way, we experience different lifetimes. And the richness of each can be directly measured in one way. So while we search for the NEXT one, let's not forget the ones around us.
May God give us the strength to open our hearts, to understand that the pain that comes with love is worth it, and that His plan for an abundant life, a powerful life, can only be found in the relationships we forge each day.