Gradual Anxiety: Part 2

(I’m about to graduate from a really great Bible college, and I’m venting what worries me going forward. If you’d like, you can read the first part of these thoughts and reflections here.)

Now that I have let you all in on my despair of not being married (or at least on the way to that) before I graduated, I can move on to another thing that hangs over my head as I head towards a different season: my friendships.

Many of these are essentially ending. As I sit through my last few class periods, as I wake up knowing that I am one day closer to leaving this place, as I count down the days until my upcoming internship, something is hovering just above my head. It casts a shadow on all interactions I have with people here. This cloud following me consists of the idea that in two short weeks, I will go from being these people’s friend to being their old friend. I will no longer be the guy that they live in the dorm with, but the one that used to live in the dorm with them. I go from being present to having been present.

I’m not sure if you know the Motive Matters (colors) personality test, but if you do then you’ll understand what it means when I say I am a Blue. Just an unbelievable amount of Blue. I’m also an ENFP, with an emphasis on the F(feeling). I basically don’t register any Thought on the Meyers-Briggs, just feeling. All this means is that my relationships and friendships determine a lot of my emotions. Sometimes that is really good. Others (like now) it is detrimental to my own emotional health.

As I write this, I am staring out the window and seeing endless amounts of rainfall. There is flooding over many of the streets, the drains are full, and people are more sullen than normal. Nothing could be a better picture of what I am writing about. It sounds ridiculous, but everything in my life is drenched in this worry and sorrow. I don’t want to lose these people.

I have struggled with letting people go my entire life. When people leave, it has hurt deeply. I can think of a few names that when I think of their leaving, I could cry even today. Dad. Matthew. Brandon and Hannah. Kendra. Breigh. Dane. Tim. Justin. These are people that left for normal reasons, and yet it affected me more deeply than I’d like to admit.

It is normal for people to come and go in seasons, and just because we leave a location doesn’t mean we vacate each other’s lives completely. But it does mean we struggle to see one another and to share like we’ve been able to in the past. Walls that were once down that enabled vulnerability and authenticity start to build back up. I find myself in this sort of situation where as much as people seem to be leaving me, I am leaving them, too.

This is hard for me to swallow. I’m sure that no one I am thinking of even cares to the extent that I do. But it feels like it is more than just moving — it feels like I am losing the people I love.

Those of you who know me know personally know that I am planning on doing some sort of mission work with my life, and are probably thinking, “I mean, do you know what you are signing up for?!?” I think that is sort of the irony (maybe tragedy) of it all. I am someone created to deeply connect, to exist in tight community, to be real as much as possible, and yet my calling is to not be in the same place to keep that going. At least, that is what it feels like.

Each time I move on to a new normal, I feel like parts of my heart and soul have been stolen. By no means do I think most people are like this, but I feel like I give a part of myself to every person I get close with. And every time I have to lose some more of myself, I find it more and more difficult to give parts away again.

There’s several friends in my life that I love and am close to, but I know deep down that these friendships are a matter of convenience. I know that when I no longer live on this campus, I will be no more than a memory to them. Hopefully a good memory, but not one that means they will go out of their way to see or talk to me.

There is a smaller number of friends that I consider to be brothers and sisters. These people are ones that I would mourn the loss of their friendships and interactions, but I know that many of these will cease when I graduate. It isn’t a personal attack, but we are all busy and going different places. Those will hurt to remember, but I will think fondly of them anyway.

Then there are about three or four people that are people I can’t envision life without. That doesn’t mean there is no life without them, but it just means it isn’t the life I would choose to live. Earlier this semester, I feel like I got a taste of what losing one of those beautiful people feels like. It is still difficult for me to even write about. I lost someone’s involvement in my life that I would have preferred to keep forever. It wasn’t because they hate me or even didn’t want me. They just needed me to not be in their life. Sometimes you can’t control that.

But it still makes me shake with regret and hurt, just remembering it. It is knowing that feeling is probably coming again that fills me with this dread about losing more of those three or four people. I know that losing so many people will most likely send me into a sea of emotional trauma that someone else will have to come along and help guide me out of. Which sets up this cycle of struggle, closeness, change, and loss all over again.

I am learning how to cope with this. I am learning how to love in spite of knowing that I will lose someone. I am learning that the right people will choose to remember me and communicate. But that doesn’t mean that I always believe they will.

I wanted to be married when I graduated, and I’m not. That’s disappointing, but I can deal. Perhaps what is even harder to deal with is that people are going to keep moving forward, and a lot of that means they will do so without me in their lives or them in mine.

I am thankful that family means forever. I am thankful to have loved some friends like family and to truly mean that. I am thankful to be able to feel this pain of separation, because it means I was able to be close. I am thankful.

And I am sad. I went through a similar season of separation and sadness when I graduated from high school, and what I really leaned on was the phrase, “Goodbye is not forever, just not now.” And that still makes me breathe a little easier. But even more than that phrase, I think I have been able to really become aware of how consistent Christ is. People come and go, but Jesus stays right there inside of me. He goes wherever I go. He makes me a priority whether or not I am conveniently where He is.

I can only hope that the people I love don’t forget me. I can only hope they will not choose to move on without me, at least in their heart. I can only hope that giving so much of myself away was worth it. I think it will be.

For now, that means a season of hurt and a small amount of despair. It takes me trusting God is in control, and that he doesn’t delight in my heartache. It is going to be okay, even if my Blue personality makes it feel like death of my heart.

Maybe you can relate to me. Maybe you can’t. Either way, I still needed to write this. To get the thoughts out of my own head and out there. I’m sure like five or six people may read these, but knowing that means I am not carrying this alone anymore. While I may feel isolated, I can at least know that someone knows I feel that way.

That makes it all a little easier to carry.