When I visited my hometown last week, the realization of all the people I’ve lost touch with hit me hard. The town I grew up in is not super small, but the church I grew up in always reminded me of a small town where everybody knows everybody (and of course, everybody’s business ~smile~). God blessed me with some wonderful friends, mentors, and family at that church. Even though I took it for granted at the time, I was never too far from someone who could give me a hug, an encouraging word, or prayer.
When I first went away to college, I could not wait to get back to my home town and visit my home church. Then as college became more demanding, and as I got more settled there, I didn’t take the time to stay connected with my loved ones back home. My plan had been to go away to college for two years (I was already a junior when I went to the university – I had a hard time leaving the nest ~smile~), and then decide if I was moving back home immediately, or going somewhere else to graduate school. At any rate, I had no intentions whatsoever of marrying a guy from college. I wanted to marry someone from home so I could stay near home.
If you’ve been a reader here at PreEngaged, you know that life does not always happen the way we plan. Not only did I marry someone I met in college, but we are still residing in Lynchburg, VA to this day. Because I was planning to move back to New Bern, NC, I didn’t take the necessary measures to stay in touch with the people there because I thought I would be back with them soon.
After I got married, time flew by. When I did visit my home church I was flabbergasted at how big the kids were (e.g., the toddlers I kept in the nursery when I first started working in that ministry were now keeping toddlers in the nursery themselves) and how disconnected I felt from the people I had been so close to at one time. Some of my formerly cherished relationships were reduced to a hug and a, “How are you?” on the way out of the church doors.
So, why did this happen? It happened because I became so consumed in my college pursuit and then married life that it did not dawn on me to stay in touch with these precious people. My focus became so centered on where my life was heading and my new responsibilities as a wife that I didn’t stop and take the time to pick up a phone or write a quick e-mail to let these people know that I still loved them.
Marriage will change your life, there is no doubt about that (and, it should!). You will have to change your priorities and perhaps say goodbye to some of your carefree ways. Some relationships will naturally fade away (e.g., ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, single friends that aren’t edifying, etc.), but some relationships will stand the test of time if you take the time to keep cultivating them. Once you are married (and even during the dating and engagement process), remember the sweet men and women that mentored you, prayed for you, took you to dinner, and advised you about life, and make it a point to stay in touch with them. You may never know how meaningful a card, an e-mail, or a quick phone call can be to them coming from you.
If you are busy or unorganized, keep a list similar to a Christmas card list. You can enter names into Microsoft Outlook (or other office productivity software) and have a few people a week come up as task reminders for you to call or write. The sad truth is that life speeds by quickly and often people we love are not in our minds if they are not in our sight. So put their names in your sight. Sweet friends are a blessing, but he who has friends must himself be a friend.
As you plan for your future marriage, write down all the people that mean the world to you now – the ones who have been true friends and mentors – and make a plan to keep in touch with them no matter how busy you are or how far away you and your new spouse may move. At some point in the future, you may need their prayers or sagely advice for a breakthrough you may never have obtained otherwise.
Who are the people that have poured deeply into your life?