I am in Chicago, near where I grew up. Though I’ve grown quite acclimated to living on the coast in California, there’s still much here that’s deeply rooted in me. Family, for one thing. It feels great to talk face to face and get to know each other again. I left Illinois a few months before I turned 19, more than two decades ago. I’ve changed. They have all changed. But we still share a bond. I have friends that feel like blood relatives too. I like to think that means something.
It’s so easy to write people off in life. I’ve done it. You’ve probably done it. A relationship is based on contact. When you’re far away and don’t see each other, over time the depth of your conversation ratchets down, then becomes less frequent. Suddenly years are passing. It’s just not the same sending emails or writing on Facebook as it is personally engaging each other. The gap between where you were and where you are expands so greatly that eventually you really don’t know each other. The past is only a hint, like some vague police artist sketch you project from. You’re out of sync, not just out of touch. Face to face contact helps realign your relationships.
It takes two to align a relationship. Some people don’t want to realign. Sometimes I don’t want to realign. Realignment means giving up old perceptions and grafting in new ones. In some cases, that’s good. You’re just maturing the relationship. In other cases, it’s uncomfortable. You may find things that just don’t line up! However, just because things aren’t what you expect doesn’t mean you can’t adjust. You may be thrown for a loop at first. “I didn’t see that coming!” But somewhere amongst the changes you may find the heart of the person you loved is still beating. Sometimes it’s a process of acceptance.
I think our relationship with God has this same dynamic, only God doesn’t change. He is never far away. He is never the one out of alignment. He is never the one who disconnects. In him, the line won’t go dead. It’s always live. He gives us the freedom to grow and change, and will even back off when we push him away, but he never hangs up. He’s always ready to engage.
I saw a translation of “Love never fails” at a friend’s house this week. It was from 1 Corinthians 13. Instead of “Love never fails,” it said, “Love never ends.” I thought, “Wow, that’s right on!” God doesn’t give up. So long as you have breath, it’s never too late to reconnect and realign with him.
I’m so glad to have this time to engage the people I love. I’m even more glad to engage the God who loves me.