"I once had 17 pen pals, but I did all the writing" - Charlie Brown
Relational experts say that the average friendship lasts 7 years until it fades away. With that being said, I have some friends I've known since grade school.
Many of them still live in and around the area of my home town. Since moving away after college, it has been a struggle ever since to be okay with these long distance friendships. With the help of Facebook, it has helped bridge the distance gap of knowing what is still going on in their lives. Yet, sometimes it makes it all the more painful because I am reminded of what I am missing out on. Almost like never getting the invite, but getting an invitation to the after party. I've missed weddings, babies be born, birthdays, camp outs and girls night outs.
I will try and pick up the phone, or write a message. After awhile, you get tired of hearing their voice mail message time and time again. You may pour out your heart in the comings and goings of what has been going on in your life, only to get a few words returned.
What is hard for me to deal with is ALL of this is outside of my control. I can't change how these people communicate, nor demand them to reciprocate. I also can not jump on a plane and visit them when I feel like it. They are simply living their lives with those near them and may not have the same need or desire of anything more than that. It is their choice as it should be for anyone.
Ministry can be a lonely place when you are on the other side of it. Others might think you are surrounded by people, but God has called you away from your comfort zone and in HIS way, changing and molding you. The process is never painless.
At the same time, if I was given the chance to move back where I grew up, I know I wouldn't be happy after the novelty had worn off. Great to visit, but these friendships don't fit into my luggage. Though it may not appear, I am glad of living in the North East and the different cultures and real weather seasons it brings. The friendships I've made out here are just different than the deep rooted ones I was surrounded by in HS and college. I find myself trying to make them feel like the friendships I grew up with, but only resulting in comparing apples to oranges and feeling disappointed.
Maybe in time, when or if God has called these wonderful folks in other directions or places, missing my home won't sting as much?
But I do love and care for these folks despite the distance...home sickness just sucks is all.