Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Too many friends?

The day my first friend from prison was released, I realized something.  I hate losing friends.  Even though I was thrilled for Rosa to return to her family in Guatemala, I knew I would miss seeing her at our Friday Bible study together.  Worse, I knew I would not likely ever see her again this side of heaven.

For those of you who grew up as global nomads, you may think it absurd to waste such needless tears over a prisoner getting released, but I grew up in a Texas neighborhood where people were not transient.  In fact, I vividly recall the shock and disappointment when Susie Darby moved away after the third grade. (I still remember her name.)  Good-byes were simply not part of my childhood.  Even my grandparents lived locally.

At this point I have a long list of coworkers who have come and gone, first in Guatemala and later in Mexico.  Many of them I have dredged back up via Facebook, not just for curiosity, but because I genuinely care what is happening in their lives.  Same thing with really old-time friends from high school.

For many years I wondered whatever happened to a couple of boys who used to tease me mercilessly in Spanish class, thinking how they would laugh to imagine me living in a Spanish speaking country for the past 25 years.  Now they are friends on Facebook.  I love that.  They were just silly classmates who made my life interesting for one hour a day for a single year in high school, but they left their mark.  

My list is long.  People whose lives have touched mine and then moved on.  Last week we hosted a short-term team with four members who were here a couple of years ago.  The one was amazed that I remembered him giving me some reading glasses.  The other was impressed that I remembered she preferred tea to coffee.  Is that really so odd?  I just like people.

You might even say I collect friends.  It's true.  I am blessed with a rich, priceless collection of fascinating, unique friends.  Each one has left a mark on my life, and I love each and every one.

Once the WOTH forums become a reality, I will add many of you to my list, sharing your joys and sorrows, praying for you, and honestly loving you without ever meeting in person.

Last Friday I attended a going-away party for a Dutch couple who are in their 80's.  Each time they come to volunteer in Mexico, I am sad to see them leave, knowing that someday they will not return.  I hate permanent good-byes most of all.  Swapping stories and laughing together that night, I was suddenly overwhelmed with gratitude to God for this precious gift of friendship.  Earlier in the day I had experienced the same feeling with the local ladies at Bible study.  Finally they, too, are truly becoming my friends.

Some would counsel me to let the past go and just enjoy the people right in front of me.  I certainly have plenty of friends close by.  But I never can seem to do that.  My earlier friends are all part of the "me" I have become.  I cherish each and every one.

Back to the question in the title, is it possible to have too many friends?

IRL If keeping friends is a spiritual gift, maybe that’s mine.


  1. suziequejames@aol.comMarch 9, 2011 at 8:32 AM

    My earlier friends are all part of the "me" I have become. I cherish each and every one.

    I agree! I cherish you too!

    Suzie (one of your really old-time high school friends)

  2. Thanks, Suzie. I'm glad you happened to read this particular post since you helped inspire it. Did you read the one from last March after my trip to Houston? You are mentioned there, too:

    Hope our reunion of sorts works out for 2012.

  3. When I lived in Switzerland, I noticed that the Swiss were culturally like you, in that they were very loyal friends.

    They were slow to let people into their hearts and lives, but once they did, they were loathe to let go.

    I have always felt a bit guilty for my ability to let relationships come and go in my life.

    I still have friendships that I cherish that have lasted for 30 years or more. But my life has been lived out in many locations, and I have had to release a lot of relationships in my time.

    I am so very grateful, however, for friends who have loved me through the years.

  4. No need for guilt, Susan. Your life is just very different than mine. One of my dear friends here is a bit like you, but she makes friends very quickly, but instantly lets them go, and wastes no energy thinking or worrying over them once they are gone. That is very normal for TCKs, or global nomads. I am the opposite.

  5. It may be normal for some TCKs, but not all. I can make friends and let them go, but it shatters my heart into looking like a kalidescope... the pieces are all there all the time, but the picture built of them is constantly changing.

    And there is a very real ache in me for the day all of my heart is in one place. Part of the beauty of heaven will be no more saying goodbye.

  6. One of the downsides to being a TCK is the defense mechanisms. I seem to make friends easily and let them go easily, but the fact is, they never really touched my heart, never really became friends.

    I have many acquaintances but few true friends.

  7. @Ellie, that is a powerful word picture "Kaleidoscope ... the pieces are all there all the time but the picture built of them is constantly changing." Very profound.

    I do long for heaven for the same reason as you, also to hear all the untold stories.

    @Beth, I think even acquaintances leave their mark on people's lives. I'm sure you have touched many.

    Your comments make me think about my own kids' responses to having such transient friends as TCKs. Thanks!


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