I've always wanted to be an extrovert-- the type who can captivate an audience, make anyone laugh, garner a wide group of friends. But I've had to realize that I'm not one, much I as would like to be. That doesn't mean that I don't have my moments of extrovertness. I do! But they're rare.
I also really love people. But I've realized how you can only befriend so many. You can only touch so many lives, make time for so many coffee dates, remember so many birthdays, tell the same story so many times. You can only stretch yourself so thin. So, as much as I would love to have that wide group of friends, I've found that I actually can't. And there's a reason. Someone once told me that the average human being can only maintain around 10 close friendships. It made sense logically, but (even though it was one of my best friends who told me), I did my research to make sure it was a credible statement. It was. :) The sources I read discussed how, despite the fact that nowadays we have hundreds of acquaintances due to sites like Facebook, this hasn't changed our number of real meaningful friendships. We're actually lonelier than ever, and that's because the more we branch out, the thinner we spread ourselves.
This statistic bothers me though. Ten close relationships? Only 10? Whether it's actually five for most people or 15, that's still such a modest number when you recognize how massive the world is and how Jesus did charge us with the great commission. However, I have to remind myself that the number is only representative of our most intimate relationships.
I think what bothers me about this statistic is the fact that those 10 people will probably change. Multiple times. See, I don't let go of people easily. I assume most people don't. But because it takes me such a long time to bond, once I do, I have real trouble letting go. And having gone through so many phases even in only 24 years, it's been clear that moving on is inevitable. I had this conversation with a friend recently, and we talked about how the idea of holding people loosely is so unattractive because it sounds careless and bitter. Would I rather avoid making friendships for fear of getting hurt? Or do I risk the loss in hopes of experiencing a possibly temporary friendship? If it's true that we are called to love all people, and "to love is to be vulnerable," then the reality is we have the responsibility to take that risk. As Christians, we are basically guaranteed to experience relational pain again and again. Encouraging, huh?
Think about your three closest friends. When did you meet them? How? I was thinking about this recently and was surprised to realize that my three closest friends have been my three closest friends most of my life. In other words, I haven't made close friends that have stuck since I was little. Hmm. I'm not sure if that's natural or not, but it made me think. For the last decade or so, I've been investing in relationships that have either been put on hold, faded, or entirely disappeared. Okay, they haven't ALL gone that route-- I have made lots of amazing friends that I would like to stay connected with-- but time will determine that. (Sorry if this is a downer so far, but I'm trying to make a point.:)) My question is: what has been the purpose of investing in these friendships? The answer: I honestly don't know. I don't know why certain people you absolutely loved spending time with fade into a memory. Why are there so many seasons to this short lifetime we've been given? Why do those seemingly divine appointments not develop into fruit we can see? I wish many of them have continued growing. I hope many of them were mutually beneficial. I am heartbroken that some of them disappeared. But, more often than not, it's not because I became lackadaisical and didn't hold tight enough. Only God knows the inner-workings of those details; and my lack of peace is only evidence of my lack of trust.
In the end, I guess I'm content to be an introvert. Most of my favorite things are done best alone: walks, runs, piano playing, writing, reading, praying. But human beings are meant to be in relationship with each other, and the purpose of this post was to tell you how much you mean to me. If I haven't seemed to reach out enough, it isn't because I don't care. It's because I'm trying to learn how to juggle all of life's elements (just like you are, I'm sure), including people. Well, especially people. And lately sometimes all I can do is just hang on and breathe. But I'm trying to trust Jesus the best I can.
I love you, friends. I hope I don't lose you. But at least I know I will see you forever in heaven one day. What a party that'll be!