Very quickly, I want to share with you something invaluable God has been teaching me here.
It has been over seven months since I first landed in Tauyuan International Airport in Taipei, Taiwan, and it has been a fairly bumpy ride. But through the darkness, God always held the light up for me, and I am beginning to see that all this time, I have been walking through the dark recesses of a diamond mine.
Here are two giant gemstones that have been unearthed, and I am still standing here in the mineshaft, holding them in my hands, brushing off the dust and gazing at their beauty:
You have the freedom to connect.
This is a quote that came from Rachel Braafhart, about four months ago when I was in tears in the downstairs of Aroma Cafe. I had told her that I did not know what to do or how to be a friend knowing that I am only going to be here for a year. I wanted a friend. I wanted a deep friend. But I also wanted to pull away and not let myself get close to anyone– so as to not hurt myself, but also for someone else’ sake! But Rachel, a missionary-background kid with a lot of experience in picking up and moving prayed for me, smiled gently, and said, “I’ve learned that I have the freedom to connect.”
And we do. Today this quote rings in my mind on an almost daily basis. I am getting to know some people (I won’t mention names, for fear of making someone feel left out) more deeply recently, and sometimes it hurts already to know that it cannot be the same forever. But what Rachel said reminds me that love is a beautiful thing that should be used and not left on the shelf (or in the diamond mine), and that God never wastes love, never wastes time, never wastes people. This time is precious to me.
Hold people loosely.
The flip side of friendships is that once I began making friendships, I almost immediately wanted to hold them tight in my fist and keep them to myself. Kind of like a little kid who wants to hold his pet bird so much that he grips it a little too tightly, unknowingly taking life from the thing he wants most. This lesson was (thankfully) timely learned before anything like that could be considered to be happening, but it is another beautiful orb of treasure.
With any relationship, you have to let it breathe or pretty soon you will not have a living relationship in your hands, but a limp, dying one. Give people space. Relationships take time, and you yourself are better off not talking to someone for a couple days, or staying away from the question you have been dying to ask, or letting the other person be the one to initiate something. Another priceless quote that I have come across is the proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Now, this may not altogether seem like it applies at all, but in my mind, I hear this: “If you want to feel good, go fast on your own effort. If you want to feel deep, go slowly together.”
I do not want a friendship that is built in an hour or a week or a month. I want a friendship that takes time, that is two-sided, and living. So, practically, what does this mean for me? This means that I wait. I put the phone down and spend the time with my Truest and Deepest Friend, Jesus Christ, who knows me and loves me (a very new concept, for me, the understanding of which came by a friend named MoMo…) deeper than any other person can or will ever know me. I trust God to develop my friendships for me. And I give– being a true friend is about what you give, not just what you get. If I feel better because of someone, that does not mean I am being their friend. Give love, give time, give patience, give humor, etc. 🙂 All the fun stuff I crave is the fun stuff others need too.
I hope that you can go down into that cave too, and let God guide you to the diamonds. Do you need healing? Are you letting God use friends in your life? Are you giving rather than just receiving from the people around you?
Life on earth is not eternal. But life with a Christian friend is.
We get to be the friends that stick closer than a brother to each other. Through coming to Taiwan, the concept of earth not being my home has… well, hit home. The friends I make in the States, or in Taiwan, or in Burma, or Spain, or wherever I happen to go, will be my friends for eternity! May God give me many chances to visit and see them in this life, but, man! Just wait til I kick the bucket and get to spend the rest of my life with everyone– on and on into the infinity of time without end!
It is beautiful, really.
Keep the Faith,