Oh what tangled webs we weave when we agree to go overseas. I’ve never seen a spider weave it’s web, maybe that’s the stuff of science labs where people are paid to study the creative science that is nature. Is it made in an orderly way? Is it made in the same way every single time? Do spiders ever get tired of weaving webs again and again after people dust it away, or because the spider moved to a different corner of the house? Maybe it doesn’t matter. A spider needs its web to survive.
Kind of like of my friendships. I need my relationships to survive. But my web is not neat, tidy, or orderly. I have China relationships, I have relationships in countries where people have gone home. If you really want tangled don’t forget to bring in family relationships! But for now lets focus on the overseas relationships.
I can think of a handful of relationships where I was intentional, maybe even crafty (in a good way!), about pursuing someone’s friendship. These relationships kind of followed typical friend-making rules. Talk a bit, visit a bit, e-mail/text a bit, get together for coffee and so on for several months or a couple of years when at some point you realize you’ve made a great friend. We get along well, we can talk about all sorts of things. I know I encourage them and they certainly encourage me. These are steady strings in my web, neat and orderly, one of my anchors that keeps me from completely blowing away.
There are others though. Like the friend who just sort of shows up. I have a few of those. Friendships whose beginning I can’t pinpoint, not because I have a bad memory, but because it seems they’ve been there a very long time. These are friendships where I think God has given me a gift unlooked-for. I did not intentionally pursue this friendship, God made it happen and all of a sudden I was like, “Whoa, I am so glad you are my friend!” I often feel that I can only hope they are as blessed as I am by our relationship. It feels lopsided. God’s outdoing me with this friendship! These strings, strong and steady, just kind of come out of nowhere in my relationship web, often intersecting a place where I need to be strengthened.
And then there’s the friendship where you think you know what you’re getting into but lady, you had no idea how fun this ride was going to be! I am a firm believer in everyone having at least one friend who can get you into situations you would otherwise have never walked into yourself. That friend who lives life a bit faster, a bit looser, and a bit freer than you! This friendship gets the loudest laughs out of you. Falling off the couch laughs. That friend, who can have you doubled over and snorting. This friendship in my web, is one of my anchor strings; it gives me the ability to withstand some strong winds.
There are some strands that are so fine you almost can’t see them, the ones you only notice because you walk into them. The one you have to follow before you find the web it is supporting. This is the friend who quietly supports you. The friend who calls, seemingly out of the blue, and says “Come have coffee with me, my treat” and it’s like a lifeline that day. Or “So I have an extra meal out. Can I bring it over to you guys?” and you feel tears rolling down your cheeks because the day fell apart in so many ways that dinner, which should be an hour, couldn’t even be on your radar yet. Where would I be without friends like this? A hidden support but no less vital.
These people together make up my web along with so many other pieces. They weave their way around me, in me, through me. Supporting me across all sorts of life circumstances. What a web. All of them strong, all of them vital even the short ones.
Short ones. Strands that feel or seem incomplete. That woman whose friendship I was just starting to fully appreciate when she was winding up her time overseas. Or that woman who, having recently met her, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt we could’ve made some great memories together had I not been leaving in a few months. Strong strands even if they are short.
Living overseas, our web often has to be remade as people come and people go or we uproot and start over. But webs are sticky and we never fully brush off that web of support. The effects of that web: those relationships have changed us in ways we never anticipated. Relationships stopping and starting, going on for years or being cut short. My web is not neat and simple. It is a tangled web but it is unique and beautiful and strong.
Who makes up your web?