All these things, and many more, have happened and yet...I came back home today feeling as though the years since eighteen have been only a dream. I look back at old pictures--of camping trips and Shasta times and Serve LA and driving over the pass for sports and boating on Suttle and watching stars on docks and in fields and on barn roofs--and I feel like they were taken only yesterday. I have to intentionally remind myself of all that has happened in four years or else I find it all rather unbelievable. I KNOW the friends I made at Capernwray and Baylor and that I’ve almost got a degree and have lived halfway across the country from here for three years now, but when I’m back here all of that quickly fades and I feel as though I should be texting everyone to organize some night games and a good ol’ TP sesh. But then I drop my baby brother off at the high school and realize those who were freshmen when I was a senior graduated TWO YEARS AGO and that I now know zero of the kids inside. And when I stop by the middle school and see that the little toddlers I taught to swim are now sixth graders in Becky’s class...I realize that years really have passed.
I broke down in tears today, "grown up" and alone on my little brother’s bed, over many things and people that have been lost. Over things that once were, and will never be again. Over friendships that were once deeper than family but are now as superficial as strangers. Over unanswered prayers and unrequited love and improper timings. I haven’t broken down like that in a very long time, but sometimes being back here and driving all the old roads and seeing the mountains and fields and fences again makes for a case of profound nostalgia.
The truth is, time isn’t really real. Time is told by the seasons and the years, felt and expressed by our physical bodies, but our souls know no time. We were created for eternity, and from God’s view, every day is both yesterday and today and tomorrow. He sees the whole timeline from above; we see and feel from point to point. And so, our bodies and calendars tell us “four, ten, twenty-five, fifty years have gone,” and our souls say “it was all in the blink of an eye.” We are eternal at heart and made for forever. So, physical time doesn’t sit well with us, when we think about it too deeply.
Just think: a sand-digger fly’s whole life is five minutes long. A mosquito lives ten days; a monarch butterfly less than a year. To me, a human who could potentially live more than a hundred years, five minutes is but a drop in the bucket; ten days a few blocks on this year’s calendar; a year only two semesters of school. But to that fly? Five minutes is a literal lifetime. An incredibly significant, not-one-second-wasted lifetime. And yet to us, decades whizz by. Old friends who haven’t seen each other since graduation “pick up like no time has passed;” lovers celebrating their 70th anniversary swear “they got married yesterday;” parents watch their babies walk across the graduation stage and think “just last week, they were in diapers.”
The truth is, at twenty-two years old I have not prepared myself to watch doors shut, to see friends and family get sick and die, to lose those I love. During childhood, it’s easy to believe that “everything will stay just like this.” All the doors will always be open, the world will always be an oyster, nothing will ever be permanent. But the truth is that, on earth, there is permanence. I’m sure many of you had that figured out long before 22, but that reality is only just now becoming clear to me.
I am so thankful I believe in eternity. To believe that these months, days, years are the end-all-be-all would be such a frustrating endeavour. It would mean that wounds that have not healed by the time I die will remain forever unhealed--that some of the wrong I’ve done and not been forgiven for would just be over and done, without resolution. But I believe in a God who is in the business of redeeming and restoring and righting. He has put eternity in our souls--allowed us to feel these aches as time passes--to show us that we have been created for more than a timeline with an end date. When we look in the mirror and see wrinkling skin and greying hair but our spirits feel sixteen and free...He wants us to embrace that disconnect. It’s a disconnect that draws us to Him because we cannot make sense of it and must trust that He can, and has.
And, it is true, that some of my friends will be my friends forever. Eternally. I texted Trent, as I was crying, and said:
“I’m glad we’re forever friends.”
“Forever and ever. I hurt with you.”
“Thanks; it’s the best anyone can do.”
“It’s a hurt I still hurt.”
“We can’t fix each other’s hurts, usually. And God doesn’t usually fix them either. But He’s with us. And, likewise, we can be with each other.”
“Just bear a bit of each other’s burdens.”
“Yep, that’s Galatians.”
And so, as I find time to be such a strange and unreal thing, it stirs a disconnect between my calendar & body and my soul, and that disconnect draws me back to friends and family, and to Jesus.
I’m thankful for the assurance of eternity...where broken hearts will be made whole and tears will be wiped from eyes by our God, who loves us and is whispering
and through whatever painful disconnects
“there is so much more than this...wait, and see.”