It's a very morbid thought for so early in the morning (my apologies).
There are times I look back at my life and find myself curious about relationships I've had in the past--relationships with people, with work, with churches, with school. Very few of these relationships have endured through my 32 years. I can count on my hand the number of best friends I have, and can add another dose of not quite as close but trusted friends, and then a larger number of very good people that I love to speak to when I come into contact with them.
I can think of hundreds of people that I knew for a season--some I still recognize their names and faces, some I only recognize by their name or face, and some I can't quite place but for some reason know that I knew them at one time. These are the people we go to school with, or work with, or share superficial relationships with when we're in a microcosmic environment. We know them for a brief period of time, sometimes creating momentary deeper friendships due to the nature of our environment (i.e. four years in a school of music can create very incestuous relationships when you eat, breathe, and survive theory and rehearsals together).
And then, all too suddenly, the period is over. You move away, you graduate, your paths take a different direction. These people that you did life with, move on to do a shiny brand new life and sometimes it can hurt a little to let go. Sometimes we aren't ready to say goodbye to those people who made us laugh so hard our sides hurt. We aren't ready to let go of this particular period in our lives. We aren't ready to say goodbye to the relationship that really wasn't healthy, but yet so very important in this season.
It can hurt to say goodbye--and sometimes leaving the past behind is harder than leaving the actual location.
Because of this, some people have a very hard time making friends or sustaining relationships. They recognize that every relationship is going to eventually end in a loss and therefore, as a matter of protecting themselves, create a very tough wall to keep the hurt out. They are the people that are very nice acquaintances, but are never going to let you past their exteriors. Usually these individuals have been stung by a relationship that went sour or ended abruptly.
But, if I could give you one piece of advice: embrace life and love deeply.
Life is too short to only give people a small fraction of you. This doesn't mean to deeply love the supermarket lady and insist she become your very best friend while she's bagging your groceries. This might get you arrested by the rent-a-cops or the shopping buggy police. (Yeah, I'm from the South, sometimes we say 'buggy' instead of 'cart'--Get off my dialect!)
But, this means, when you approach a new environment, a new school, a new job, or a new church that you've been called to or arrive at for a season: embrace life and love deeply. Put down some roots and get to know the people. There will be some people that will respond immediately--these are the people lovers of the world. There are others that you will have to be more persistent with--these are those who you will see semi-regularly. Make a point to love on them, even if it's just through a conversation or a simple greeting. And then, there will be some who will require a whole lot of love just to tolerate. These are the most delicate individuals--but your life will be a happier place if you can live in peace with them.
However, if there are some people that are just too difficult or too unwilling to be your friend--then by all means, stop wasting your time. Be nice, be friendly, but for the love of all that's sane, stop trying to make it work. If you and your like (because they ain't your lerve or a friend if you've got to cram that square peg into the round hole) are constantly in this pattern of break up make up break up make up, it's not worth it! If you find people are bringing your self-esteem down because they think their poopoo doesn't stink--they aren't worth it. It's better to let those people go on their merry ways and enjoy life more in their absence.
And, in case you are someone on an ego trip: don't hold your willingness to be friendly with people over their heads like a prize to be won. Popularity contests ended (for everyone else) in high school. Embrace the people you encounter--even if you know it's only for a season. Your life will become so much fuller if you just aim to love people, rather than live at war with them. Life is too short and too chaotic to add another level of stress to your world.
I'd much rather laugh with you than feel uncomfortable around you.
I made up my mind going into my last position that I was going to embrace the environment and love the people deeply. Some were so easy to love right away--and they loved me in return. Others were like porcupines initially, but soon became some of my favorite people to be around. Others were content to hold me at arm's length, and I was content to stay there because it wasn't worth the hassle of forcing the relationship.
But those relationships, and my decision to love freely and without reservation, is what makes me look back on the past two years and smile.
Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.
And the best of the three is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13 (MSG)