A couple weeks ago I heard Shauna Niequist read from her new book Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way. (I know, I should change my blog to that title!) I heard Shauna for the first time on Mother’s Day weekend when she read some of her pre-published chapters at a tea my mom and I attended. I connected with her then because, well, I feel like we’re a lot alike. But I think some of her appeal is that probably every woman who hears her thinks they’re a lot alike! She verbalizes the struggles and joys in the every day that all of us are thinking and feeling but don’t necessarily put out there.
But probably not every woman sobs through the first two chapters of her book. That’s what I did. I took empathy to a whole new level! In her chapter “The Closer You Get”, she writes about the pain of having to say good-bye to her best friend, who was moving from Grand Rapids to California. Through her description of how heartbreaking it was to do that, flashes of all the good-byes I’ve said, especially in the past year, came flooding to mind. And I completely fell apart. I say good-bye to people I love all the time, and it never gets easier because the more we progress through life and experience more real-life/adult joys and hardships, the more we need each other but the more geographically spread out we are.
I just read a post on Zach and Renee’s blog about a breakthrough they’re having with one of their adoptive daughters. I rejoice with them when I read that, but it hurts that I’m reading it and not able to share their joy in person. I want to know these girls, but as long as I don’t live in Cincinnati, I won’t get to see them grow up, and they won’t know me like they’ll know the people who live near them.
Zach and Renee are always telling me to move to Cincinnati. (Wait a minute, they’re the ones who convinced me to move to Houston in the first place, and then they left!) But if I moved to Cincinnati, I would still be away from the other children I want to see grow up in Michigan, and I’d be away from all my fabulous single girl friends and my church community in Houston. Then there are my girls in England, who I miss all the time too. Why can’t all the people I love be in one place?
One of the reasons I came back to Houston this summer was because I needed some consistent community. But as I delve more into the community I love here, I become more and more aware of the community I’m missing out on in other places. And I become more and more aware of the impossibility of ever having community with all the people I love.