Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I spoke with a friend "Molly" recently about the nature of "temporary" friendships. She was describing to me how she had become really close to a neighbor, to the point of sharing meals and calling daily. She felt like they were almost sisters. Then Molly's friend told her that because Molly was planning to live in her present home only temporarily (a few years, due to husband's grad school) she did not want to be close friends with her anymore. She and her husband had decided they wanted to pursue friendships only with people who were going to settle down permanently in their town. Molly didn't qualify. This has been heartbreaking for her, and it baffled me.

I've been "temporary" all my life, and the truth is that each of us is "temporary" since we actually don't know what the future holds. We can't tell ahead of time when life circumstances will be such that we need to move. We might think we've settled, but it's never for sure.

And then there are people like me. Eleven years (with some 6-12 month gaps) is the longest I've lived in one area. I've lived on three continents, and even now, do not know what my address will be in 5 months. To think that I would be rejected from friendship because of this makes me very sad. I understand the fears and sorrows involved, but think that the love is worth it.

Right now I'm in a place where I sense that possible friends are purposely avoiding getting to know me. But this is the first time I've ever really felt this kind of resistance. For the most part, I've made friends quickly and they've stayed good friends for life.

A special case in point was the year I lived in Scotland. We knew we were only going to be there for twelve months. We found a church right away and told them we'd be there for a year. Yet people still reached out to us in an amazing way and blessed us with their genuine friendship. Dear women opened up to me without waiting the prerequisite months of "getting acquainted." I now have forever friends in Scotland -- all because they loved me despite my being temporary.

It's actually a benefit in my eyes. I have friends all over the world. I have people to visit when I travel. I have many who I can talk with at length, praying for each other and laughing as we catch up. Thank you, God, for the gift of good friends.


ErinOrtlund said...

It can be tricky, definitely. I read some interesting books this year--one is an older book called Future Shock, and another is called Bowling Alone. Just talking a lot about what high mobility has done to friendships and community. I know for me, many of my best friendships were forged in "temporary" times. Then again, I do get wearied of always starting over with new friends.

ErinOrtlund said...

PS. I probably relate best to others who have moved a lot, as I imagine you do too.

Anonymous said...

Oh Lisa. This really stinks. A friend here told me about a very similar situation, and how much it crushed her. It really is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. People who avoid short-term friendships are just missing out. It's a loss for all of us! I love you!