“Great,” I reply, half-hearted even in my sarcasm.
“Yeah,” she chuckles, “I think you’ll need it, too.”
She is right, of course, though not necessarily due to any great revelatory insight on her part (not that she’s not capable of such, mind you)—it is a widely known fact, among those with whom I am known, that I do not deal well with change. At all. Like my front-wheel-drive micro-van trying to get up my unplowed and thrice-frozen-over street, I do best when I keep in my deep little ruts. No one gets stuck, no one gets side-swiped, everyone is happy. It works for me. Until someone goes and plows the street.
Like, say, my friend.
Over six years ago we moved to this town, leaving behind on one hand my very dear parents but on the other a group of very hurtful and difficult friendships I was eager to be free of. God’s provision began with a small group of young moms who met twice a month at the church I’d begun attending with my husband, and it continued from there. That group was a life-saver for me in more ways than one, and out of that group grew two of the best friendships I’ve ever had. The friend beside me now is one of them. She will not be beside me for much longer.
Occasionally I’ll hear my mother-in-law refer to women she classifies in the “we were friends when our kids were little” category. I often found myself wondering what happened that those friendships shifted. While I don’t recall ever actually thinking the words, “that will never happen to us,” I know the thought was there, just the same. I would never have that category. It was as simple as that. Nothing would ever change.
But, alas, nothing in life is simple. So, what happened when their kids weren’t little anymore? Families moved, mothers who once stayed home went back to work, lives got crammed full with the kids and their activities—all these friendships that are life-lines for me, are they headed in the same direction? I pull over to let an on-coming vehicle through, swerving and fish-tailing as I go, then struggle to pull back into the middle of the road where the traversing is easier. How long will these ruts remain?
Nostalgia, our pastor reminds us, is an attempt to retrieve the irretrievable. I know this far too well as I am, by nature, one who is constantly looking longingly back over my shoulder. It is our attempt, he asserts, to deal with change apart from God. “The only way to know God as your security is to give up and surrender to his sovereignty.” Living this way, I suspect, is a little more like having four-wheel-drive—less ruts, more freedom of movement. The ability to maneuver through obstacles with power and agility. The ability to navigate life without my foot on the break in fear. The ability to embrace the open road, wherever it may lead.
The only constant is change. My friend understands this, and points me to the God who is both “the rocks and the rapids.” I cannot pick and choose where I will trust him and where I will not—it is an all-or-nothing proposition. Once again, he is doing a new thing. Once again, I must learn to trust him.
Once again, I must say good-bye.