Since moving here 5 months ago, my wife and I have met ZERO couples or individuals our age, and hence, have made ZERO friends. Having spent the first 9 or so months of our marriage alone in Alaska, we actually do quite well without a lot of outside friendships, but we do miss the relationships we had back in Arizona even though we saw those people relatively infrequently. We're coming to realize that even those infrequent contacts were very important to us and we're missing the presence of our friends in our lives. I guess we're feeling a little lonely, at least, I know I am to some extent.
I used to lead a college-aged Bible study, and did so for 2-3 years (there was a break while I was in Bosnia). I started out just attending, but was asked to take turns leading and was quickly propelled into the primary leader position. We started out with 7 or 8 people, and shot up to around 20 before I got deployed to Bosnia. After I got back, the study started averaging around 25 people and I think the biggest group we had was in the mid 30's. It was a pretty tight-knit group, despite the size, and it was the first time in my life I felt valued & respected by a group of my peers.
As is the way of things, the group changed - people moved away or moved on, relationships soured for various reasons, priorities shifted - the normal progress of life for college students learning more about who they are and where God wants them in the world. I, for one, got deployed (again) & got married, with marriage vastly changing me & my outside relationships. Lest I be mistaken, I love being married and I love my wife, there are just times when I miss that group of people and the time we shared.
I was reminded of this earlier today when I was poking around the blogosphere - a link to a link to a link - showing a relationship among various people that sounded quite similar to what I had in my group. As I read the posts, I realized more than ever that the old group is no longer possible because I, too have changed and changed drastically. But its a subtle change and difficult to put my finger on. I think I am less care-free than I used to be. Not that I have more to worry about, far from it, its just a better understanding of connection & mortality. I don't think heaven was real to me before, not down deep where it counts, and it is becoming real to me now. Life has a purpose and it does not leave much room for pointless pursuits. While I dearly loved those people and believe that they loved me, I know that my pride - at being the leader, at being looked up to - suffused those times. A fact for which I'm sure I will have to give account. The responsibility which I had is now becoming clear to me, and I can see how my weakness may have made the difference for someone - heaven or hell, faith or disbelief.
I'm struggling right now, to find my balance, to find the straight path. I don't have it all figured out like I used to. I guess that's the biggest difference. I used to be sure - of who I was and what I knew. Now, I'm only sure of what I don't.