Friendship is a strange, yet interesting phenomenon. Have you ever had a friend disappear for years and years, then suddenly contact you out of the blue? Yeah, they usually want money, but perhaps there's more to their phone call or email than just green smelly paper.
A friend who went to Costa Rica with me four years ago suddenly emailed me this week. The funny thing is, I rarely think about that trip, but I had thought about this particular friend only yesterday. I had wondered how he was and what turns his life had taken since that trip that seems so long ago. Many of the things that happened in Costa Rica still occur to me on a regular basis. But most of my memories center around the natives of Costa Rica with whom I shared the gospel, or the lessons I learned from that trip.
I rarely think about the kids who went with me, the ones who were just like me. The ones who lived every moment of the trip in continual awe of God, realizing that the things we went through exceeded our wildest expectations of what could happen on an eight day mission trip in a country that is not so far away. We prayed, and walked, and talked, and learned; and we were inspired by the coolest most positive youth leaders I have ever had the opportunity of meeting.
At the end of it all I got up and gave an inspiring testimony before 1500 people who I did not even know. And they cheered me and encouraged me and talked to me as if I suddenly had some sort of maturity.
That trip was awesome, but it was a trip. It did not last. I keep in close contact with one person from that trip and I have not seen him since the trip because he lives in another country. I did keep in contact with another couple friends for a while, but even that did not last. I still remember my team in a lumped together, nostalgic sort of way. We all wanted to have a reunion mission trip back to Costa Rica, but we all went on to do other things and walk other paths. That's how life is, it's not a trip. You get to know people along the way. Some of them stay with you forever, some of them will always be a part of your life. But some of them move on to other paths and you forget their friendship.
Still, it is good to remember those times and those friendships. Beware memories that trap you and make you unhappy with where you are in life. But cherish those memories that return at exactly the right moment and help you move forward once again with renewed vigor. Sometimes things happen that recall friendships lost or ended, and in the recall you can find either wistful longing, or encouragement for the future. There have been many memories that steeled me to act in a way I knew I should act, that taught me the right way to be, that came back in the nick of time to help me grow in the way that God wanted me to grow.
One small thing that I have learned in life, is that one should always cherish one's frienships because the older you get, the fewer true, close friends you have. The friends worth spending time with are the ones you must stick with. And sometimes, it seems you have lost the friends who would have been very good for you to keep. Then as you go along your way, you will either find better friends, or the old friends will mysteriously turn up in your inbox.