When I was a child my parents would work during the day and I would be taken care of by different people. It was common for me to sleep in my bed one night and then wake up on a couch in someone else’s house the next morning. When I would awake, I would take a quick look around to see who’s house I was in, and once confirmed I would look for my bag that my parents would leave me filled with snacks, extra clothes, tooth brush, etc. I do not have memories of being scared or concerned that my mother or father would not return for me. Instead I would eat my breakfast, turn on the television with the volume very low and start my day knowing full well that my parents would eventually arrive.
This gave me a lot of confidence not necessarily in myself, but in the fact that I was a part of different families and communities filled with people that cared and looked after me in one sense or another. I had my immediate family, ‘cousins’, ‘aunts and uncles’, my schoolmates, and my church community. I also had T.V, which if you know me, had a great impact on my development and how I viewed the world. With the vast amount of support, with all of the lessons I was taught, no one had prepared me for what I found to have been the most devastating lesson to learn, and I did it the hard way.
Watching television I had found there to commonly be a hidden concept in each show, perhaps even hidden to its creators, and just so I don’t spend too long coming up with a term, let’s call this concept “Immortal Relationships”. As a young optimistic boy, like a sponge I absorbed the idea that every meaningful relationship you create, every bond you make is in someway unbreakable and always accessible in the way you need, or want it to be. I saw in my favourite shows best friends that would grow up together, and if anyone in the group would leave, it would only be for the summer or a year at most. Mentors would follow you throughout life and be in the same place they always were, (is it always a fence?) ready with tweet-able words of wisdom. Did anyone from the main cast ever permanently leave those 90s sitcoms? There was a deep sense of forever that translated to my subconscious as “No one will ever leave you”. I understood that people moved away, that sometimes circumstances allowed people to leave your life because it will be better for theirs, but this was only supposed to happen to the minor characters in the Adrian epic. When I reached the end of my high school days, I was struck by the reality of people leaving repeatedly.
I consider myself to be extremely social, and believe that life is meant to be lived symbiotically. So for years I developed confidence that no matter where I woke up in life, I would know that friends, family and mentors were always close by. Then I entered my last year of high school and proceeded in to adulthood where I saw friendships crumble, relationships end, and others to simply disappear. My senior year of high school unveiled that many of my friends who I felt like were part of my ‘core group’ began to segregate and I saw less and less of certain people. After graduation, people left, year after year. Mentors abruptly left the city, cousins aunts and uncles seemed to disappear, a whole community performed an exodus and the girl I shaped my future around promptly decided to pursue other options. Confused, I would try to gather my scrambled thoughts, but all I could manage to think was “How could this happen?” No one ever told me that I had to let people go in this way. My family, my friends, every bond that I made, we were all supposed to grow old together, learn from one another, and it was all supposed to be a Truman Show.
With every departure, I felt abandoned, rejected, thrown aside, it was not till I left a community of my own did I began to truly understand this aspect of life and why it occurs. The ugly truth is that I am too selfish with my relationships. Last year I was presented a thought, a door, an opportunity to dramatically change my life for the better, only it asked a big price. Perhaps you’re reading this and you do not have faith in God, or maybe you do but just don’t think He’s as personal as certain people make Him out to be, but I believe He is more personal and involved than any of us can imagine which is important to state to understand this next part.
In the Summer of last year, I was prompted with what I can only describe as a thought which I believe was from God which suggested to me that I needed to leave the church I had been attending for 22 years. During that Summer, I was happy, life seemed to slowly be improving so I ignored this thought. It seemed ridiculous that I would leave a community so wonderful, one filled with people that I cared for and cared for me; it seemed counterproductive to listen to this feeling. I ignored the thought as the months passed and slowly I began to see that I was changing, or perhaps that the church was changing, or maybe nothing was changing which in a way can be worse. Either way, The thought of me leaving grew increasingly stronger, and I began to see evidence why it would benefit not only myself,but others as well. What is ironic, and I admit hypocritical is that I left in a similar fashion as many of my mentors who left me devastated but I had now understood why.
It has been a year since I left, and I can say that I am the happiest I have been in a long time. It’s probably important to note that I have found a new church community in which i am continuing to learn and grow. It seems that in life we are presented with opportunities that are risky and demand a high price, but if we sit idly without taking risks, without stepping out of our comfort zone and desiring growth, we will never be the best we can be, and often times we stop others from being the best they can be. This does not mean that those who leave are gone for good, or unable to contact (Facebook still exists), it’s just a matter of understand that life doesn’t revolve around yourself, and that people make tough decisions which may affect other people even more than it does you. I was extremely selfish in my relationships. I wanted all of us to stay in our comfort zones, and take little steps and have normal “Vancouver” lives, but we as people are called to much more than the lifestyle of a sitcom character.
So, all of that to say thanks to everyone who has ever impacted me, challenged me, been there for me whether you are part of my life now or not. Maybe I spent some time being upset with you, but I am beginning to understand that this is just a part of life. In life people you love will come and they will go, and that is just a part of our journey. We can let our hearts become hardened or choose to invite change and have faith that things will work out.