As I mentally prepare to leave San Diego, I’m reminded of what will be left behind — more so, the friendships and relationships I’ll be leaving behind. Mind you, I know these bonds won’t disappear, but they’ll certainly change in more ways than both sides will expect. And this will be a test of which friendships will remain strong, and which ones won’t. 

It got me thinking about friendship as a whole — what makes it, what breaks it? More specifically, what strengthens and sustains it?

When I was younger, I thought the strongest relationships depended on time. You know, having a childhood friend who saw you in diapers and who walks beside you in graduation, sees you get married, etc. Because you'll always be friends, almost like a positive obligation. And it's true, time is a factor, but time isn't what determines the strength. I could know someone my entire life and yet hardly know them at the core; on the other hand, I could know someone for a short month but feel so familiar with the depths of their character and the corners of their mind. So I’ve realized it’s not the time, but it’s what you do in that time that develops the bond. In other words, it’s all about the relational intimacy and the effort you put into the friendship.

It’s all about being intentional with people. And to be intentional out of love.

When I spend time with a friend or family member or whoever it may be, what do I do in that time? Is it all just mindless talks, laughs, sharing entertaining images found on Facebook? Sometimes I catch myself seeing friendships as just a means for surface-level entertainment. But then I remember that my loved ones and whoever I'm interacting with are actual people — people who are far more than what is seen at surface. They're people with hearts, souls and minds that have so much to say. And I want to hear what they really have to say, because I love them.

I want to talk about the things that actually matter, and stir up conversations that bring that to light — things of the heart, mind and soul. Because when we share those things, something absolutely beautiful happens — we're no longer just two buddies who can hang out and laugh at funny jokes, but we're two companions connected at the heart, mind and soul who build each other up. I’d much rather understand someone deeply through hearing them speak about past or current pains and how that’s shaped them into who they are today, than about something funny they saw on TV. I’d rather learn about their childhood and what happened that forced them to grow up mentally. I want to hear about their passions, and why their heart grew inclined to those things. I want to hear their life stories of defeat, and of bigger victories, and how that inspires them now. I want to hear about what’s going on in their life now, and where they’re meant to go from here on. I want to hear about their heartaches, and I want them to hear me when I offer to lessen the weight of those burdens. Tell me something real about you, and let’s make our shared words worthwhile. Because these things reveal to me where your heart truly is, how you think and see and perceive life and people around you, and what/Who your soul longs for — and that’s who you are at the core; that’s who I am at mine. And when we see each face to face in this transparency and honesty, and when we've reached that level of intimacy, we can build one another up, encourage and support each other out of love. And that's when you're begin living life together. Maybe that sounds boring to some people, but that’s where the depth is. That's the depth most people crave in their lives. That’s what separates a meaningful relationship with a surface-level one. That's the depth that makes me excited to see how friendships, both new and old, will grow from here on out. And that’s the depth I've experienced in many friendships that assures me that those relationships won’t die when I relocate to Portland. 

But I’ve learned that having these kinds of deep relationships takes mutual effort, and a whole lot of it. Not everyone you meet in life will want this depth with you, and not everyone will be willing to put out that effort, and that’s okay. But those who are willing and are desiring of that, keep them close and dear to you. Because they’re the ones meant to stay in your life. Share life with them and love on them despite the distance, and those bonds will last a lifetime. 

I know that years from now when I'm still away from San Diego, when others begin moving to other faraway places, when they take on busier schedules and get married and have families, the deep relationships I have now will always remain. Some way or the other. And I take comfort in knowing that God will take care of them and our friendship. I'm eternally grateful for every wonderful person in my life, and for the beautiful people who have shared their lives and hearts with me.

Cheers to the next chapter.