I realized recently that about 95% of the people I care the most about (or who care the most about me) do not live in the same place I live. My life has been characterized by relationships built quickly in one place followed by a prolonged separation. I can testify to the age-old saying that "absence/distance makes the heart grow fonder," and can pull out several cases to prove it.
I often grow tired of using the phrase "I miss you." I have uttered those words to more people more frequently than I would like, and am constantly longing to see certain people.
I have amazing friends. Though I am not there for them all the time, I know that they are only a phone call away. In my time of need yesterday, I was able to call friends hours away and comfort or be comforted by them in a godly, encouraging way. Whenever I go home, I know I will always be welcomed by familiar family and friends who miss me as much as I miss them. When my friends go away to far away places, I know that they will eventually come back, and that they will not forget about me.
Relationships defined by distance reach an entirely new level- I have seen this to be true so many times. I have come to appreciate these people for their encouragement, prayers, and character- not only by their fun personalities or ability to make me laugh, although most possess these fantastic qualities (and more!). I have been encouraged in my walk in the Lord in so many ways through these incredible people.
When I read through the New Testament, I often see the apostle Paul longing to see different people. His life was defined by the making of new friends and leaving them soon after for another missionary journey. In Acts 20, it tells of his tearful good-bye with the Ephesians, and in 1 Thessalonians, his intense longing to see the people of Thessalonica is revealed. Even Jesus longed to see friends far away: his friendship with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus was treasured. In the case of both Jesus and Paul, they considered relationships to be dear to their hearts, but not enough to hinder their ministry. They kept these relationships for encouragement and for accountability. What great examples!
I have pretty much determined that my future will not promise a permanent home close to family and friends. The cost of discipleship does not allow for it, nor will my ambitions to reach the nations make it plausible. In one sense, this makes me sad. But in another light, I am so thankful for the great people who have been placed directly in my path at some point to continue spurring me on to love & good deeds, and to continue fighting the fight and running the race with endurance. So to all of you out there who have helped me make it to this point- Annie, Jordan, Stephanie, Jessica, Amanda Jane, Marsel, Kristen, ALL my family, Devi, David, Alex, Lindsay, and so many others- if you are even reading this, you know who you are, and you know how you've helped me get to this point. Don't let the fact that I hate talking on the phone make you think that I am ignoring you... I'd rather I could just see yo' face. But I'll take what I can get :)