The Ones You Can Hardly Leave Behind

English: A Christmas tree lit and decorated, s...

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Sometimes, life makes me feel like I’m not learning anything. I start seeing myself as stuck, stationary, and, consequentially, superfluous.

This summer has not been one of those times.

For a good, long while, I’ve contemplated need.

Need for people. Need for people to be other than what they are. I oftentimes struggle through relationships because I don’t understand need, because I do my best not to need. On the flip side of that, I struggle with other people needing me, because I don’t understand why they think they should expect anything of me when I expect nothing of them.

*Now, of course this is oversimplifying things. This is categorizing me a bit too strictly, because there are, and have always been times, when I’ve needed others. I just know that I could have done a lot more needing and being needed in the past, and plan to do more of both of those in the future.*

Two Christmases ago, I spent my first holiday without family. My parents and sister (along with her husband and kiddos) went to North Carolina, and I didn’t quite have the money or desire to leave the desert, so we did things separately.

That was pretty scary. I had made plans with some friends, but I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if I was allowed to hang out all day, or maybe it would just fill a couple of hours and I’d be alone to fill the silence after that. I didn’t know if I’d have fun and want to stay the whole time, or be counting down the minutes until I could leave.

It ended up being a wonderful Christmas.

Then last year, I figured I’d spend half of the holiday days with family and half with friends. But, when Thanksgiving rolled around, I found out that family holidays weren’t what I thought they’d be, and I couldn’t rely on them… so I spent my first Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve with friends, and my second Christmas Day with them – all wonderful.

So as the year rolls forward and the upcoming seasons include busy schedules, family move, birthday parties, and holiday fun, I’m beginning to see my friends as benefactors of an inheritance I don’t deserve. They’ve given me tradition, affection, stability, and they’ve claimed me.

I’m also realizing that I need those benefactors. I need their provision for all of those things and more, which is SOOOOO scary.

As I was floating along in the Caribbean this summer, I missed them so much more than I wanted to, and when they picked me up at the airport, I couldn’t have been more shocked with affection. My holiday benefactors plus that one person who created and is my current home, picked me up and immediately supplied friendship and fun. I was tired and land-sick (from standing on dry land after getting used to floating on water), and I’d spent the entire day traveling and thinking about my bed, but I didn’t care about any of that, because I needed them no matter how late I had to stay up, because being with the people you need is more fulfilling than even sleep :).

Then, this weekend, a few of us went to Flagstaff, and as we enjoyed the best meal of my life, one of the greatest views in the world, and walking in the rain, we also talked about returning soon, because one of our number was absent, and we needed him to be there to make the trip whole.

Such thoughts are foreign to me, but I’ve seen slow changes of heart that make me think differently about next year and the year after that. Just like with the cruise, I can’t hardly imagine leaving these people behind, and I know I’ll spend my thoughts enjoying where I’m at, but feeling a little incomplete going it without my closest benefactors. Cambodia is suddenly much too far away to go to alone. And when I get married and make babies, I need the friends who’ve provided for me as only family does.

Although every fear and practicality in me believes that these current thoughts and desires, my benefactors, and every good thing in life are only temporary, I’m starting to want and hope they’ll be forever.

I’m starting to think about putting down some roots and moving in across the street so our kids can ride bikes together. I know a heart doesn’t fully change overnight, and the thoughts I’m having are only inklings of possibility, but it’s nice to see myself growing up more than I ever expected to. It’s nice to begin to believe in the impossible.


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