“Things treated merely as things in themselves destroy themselves because only in God have they any life” (For the Life of the World by Alexander Schmemann)
Millennials are taught to expect things to be temporary. Whether it’s marriage or mobility, jobs or friendships, everything ends or at least everything tends to fall apart. Seasons come, seasons go. If there is one thing you can count on it’s that you can’t count on very much.
These experiences leave us with an impoverished view of friendship. This is a tricky thing to talk about, because you also have to address temporary relationships, the delay of marriage, and the loss of core relationships. If up to half of our parents (before they pass on) will divorce at least once, if we are more likely than not to have had a few possible core dating relationships before we settle on marriage, if we are told to establish ourselves in our careers before we really start putting down roots, if we are just one degree away from the perfect life relationships get handled less like relationships and more like things.
I have heard more than one friend tell me that they have put their relationships on hold to focus on what’s before them (grad school, career, etc.). It’s not a bad idea to prioritize, and if it is hard to imagine sustaining friendships and doing something that your life may depend on than the tendency is to prioritize what is most important. I don’t really have neat, simple solutions to these questions, but I do have another way to look at them.
What if commitment, honesty, forgiveness, and fellowship were to infuse our relationships. A commitment to love despite the circumstances. A true respect for the free will of the person you are relating to. A willingness, even a stubborn refusal to refrain from judging those who let you down. The honesty and the courage to be ourselves in relationship. The ability to forgive and to reconcile when things do come up. And the regular fellowship which is to mark the life of the Christian. The Christian life is lived in community. When we view community as primer to our health and not a secondary obligation, we can begin to be creative enough to serve, be, and be known by others. If we put Christ central in our relationships than he can light the way to relating to neighbors as fallen as each one of us. These values can help us in any season.
As you look at your life, who is your primary community (think of people and names)? Do you put the time and communication necessary to keep that community vibrant? How can you reconnect with someone today?
May the Lord bless you and keep you,