O the Tenuous Nature of Friendship

16 Jul

For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.
Luke alone is with me.  2 Timothy 4:10-11 ESV

Lately I’ve found myself at one of those reshuffling intersectons of life.

I have enjoyed friendships that have been solid and defining and life-giving, especially in recent years.

And then the corner turns.

Time shifts.

Commonalties fade as new realities come into focus.

And suddenly you realize that you have boarded different trains heading in different directions. There’s not necessarily anything insidious or bad about it. Sadly, sometimes it is for us a case like Paul and Demas. Paul felt deserted by one who had been a close friend, a comrade, one with whom he had shared the intimacies of faith and life, of hope and pain. I don’t know that I feel anyone has been a Demas to me, forsaking and abandoning me, leaving me in the proverbial lurch. But I’m pretty certain at least a few have seen me as their own Demas.

More common in my experience has been the Crescens, the Titus, off to various and sundry other destinations. Life is no longer shared, only a past. I think it’s good to treasure the past, to be thankful for each Crescens and Titus in our life through our past journey, even as we welcome new faces. How awkward it can be when we actually make a reacquaintance, perhaps years later. Fond recollections of “glory days” with laughter and perhaps tears, but then that awkward silence as we realize that that is all that we share, all that we will share. Past memories. No present, and evidently no future. At least not here.

Occasionally a treasured friend from the past will pop into view on Facebook or even through a random encounter. There is an excited initial burst of exchange and joy and “catching up.” And then quickly the tenuous line of friendship fades out again.

It happens in one-on-one relationships; it happens in small groups. Relational intersections come and then go as the corner turns yet again. How often do we try to pump life into a friendship – or even a collection of friendships represented in a small group – only to find that we are applying CPR to a corpse. Images of Jamie from Empire of the Sun thinking he has “magic hands” that can “bring them all back” – but we only end up pumping blood into lifeless eyes.

Friendship is a beautiful divine gift to be received and held with open hands. But it is a seasonal gift, for the most part. Few such gifts last for the still relatively brief long haul of life – the “Luke” who remains with us and we with them through all is a rare and treasured gift indeed.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time,” says the Preacher (Eccl. 3:11).

It is wisdom to embrace the beauty of friendship in its time however that time is. And to let it go when that time has passed, as we once again turn the corner to embrace new beauty in the faces of new friends.

There are things we don’t want to happen, but have to accept; things we don’t want to know, but have to learn, and people we can’t live without, but have to let go.
Jennifer “JJ” Jareau, Criminal Minds


Posted by on July 16, 2011 in musings


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4 responses to “O the Tenuous Nature of Friendship

  1. Robin

    July 16, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    So very true, Mike. But some of my closest friends and I have put in our requests for neighboring mansions in glory.

  2. wordhaver

    July 17, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Amen, Robin! Though I think it would be even cooler to share a flat… 🙂

  3. Joshua Hopping

    July 18, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    In remembering the Pauls, please remember that is equally hard for the Titus and Crescens out there. For in following the Wild Goose of the Spirit they had to leave behind close friends and comrades, family and blood-ties…

    aye, loneliness and shifting friendships happens on both sides… Thank the Lord that we shall see dine again with each other when the Kingdom comes in full.

  4. wordhaver

    July 18, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    Amen Josh!


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