So another year at Gardner-Webb has come and gone. This one was particularly difficult for me; not only did I have to say goodbye to a number of good friends I had made in the three years I spent in the Div school, but I had to watch as some of my closest friends left for the 'real world'.
This transition was made more difficult as it was revealed that there was tension among myself and those good friends. I won't go into detail about that issue, but I will just say that perhaps the hardest part of this event was not being able to enjoy the company of those guys one last time as a group.
Anyway, here I sit, on Gardner-Webb's nearly empty campus, half-expecting everyone to come back next year and to simply pick up where we left off at the end of this semester. However, I know that isn't going to happen and that this next year will be anything but normal and routine. And that hurts a lot. So much more than I express in writing or otherwise. There are people who I just now found how awesome they are and how much time was lost in not getting to know them before and not enjoying their craziness-UNICORN!. There are others who intimidated me from our first encounter and struck me with how brilliant their thoughts, especially in the only class we had together-African American Literature (I was always impressed with their insight, especially as freshmen). One who immediately wrote me off and declared that I would not last more than a semester, only to become one of my best friends and a true means of support. There was a group that was formed based on an idea of support and prayer, both of which were found in that group-things I needed at that time and was unable to adequately provide for others.
This semester was particularly trying for one of my friends and so our friendship was strengthened as this person sought support and camaraderie from me. This friendship has been extremely important for me as well; I had always sought to have a better friendship with this person, but it had never seemed to be in the cards. It was so awesome to have a guy friend who I could talk to about life (granted I had another strong friendship, but there is just something about having another guy as a means of accountability and encouragement). My sincere hope is that this friendship continues beyond the typical college friendships and that we will continue to assist one another as much as we can-which I believe will be the case...or at least hope.
As I reflect on this, I can't help but think about those friendships that have lasted beyond graduation-they are few, but so powerful. Chris Farthing and Andy Tillery are some of the most awesome people I've ever know and I am so thankful for their friendship. Even though we don't see each other on a regular basis, those times when we do are so much greater because of the absence. It is a similar story with Emily Walker nee Dykstra; even though we didn't spend four years together at university, the two years we did were enough to secure a life-long friendship. I was recently privileged to see her again after five years-we picked up right where we left off and neither of us missed a beat. It was so amazing to be able to reconnect our friendship, even after so long.
I guess I am using this particular post as a means of processing through saying goodbye to a lot of dear friends, but also finding hope in the fact that it needn't be goodbye-more like see ya later. Also, this serves as a means of thanking all of the people who are my friends and have impacted my life. Ultimately, life continues, regardless of our desire for time to stand still; so while it is important to cherish those moments, it is also important that we not seek to live in the past. God has given us each day and so we should take joy in those moments.
Each of my friendships is special and unique, important to me. But I have been trying to keep my focus on God and not allow my happiness to alter based on the position in which I currently find myself. God is always constant and so in these moments, I know I can rely fully on Him and find peace there.
As I finish this, I am reminded of Isaiah 43:2, which says, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you." Even though friends come and go and new relationships are formed, God will never leave us and we find our strength and stability in Him.
Kairos-life-defining moments and friends,
David A. Bell