I'm usually not one to get attached to people. More often than not, I use the excuse that my introverted nature just prevents me from getting close and forming lasting relationships with the people I meet. The truth of the matter is, I've become pessimistic about relationships.
See, saying goodbye is a hard thing to do. But it's not as hard if the attachment isn't that strong. Over the years, I've trained myself to hold back with friends and acquaintances. Eventually, I move on, or they do. At that point, the inevitable goodbye hurts. The pessimist in me is convinced that it won't hurt as bad if I don't get that close.
But keeping one's distance is easier said than done. Anyone who reads this blog knows I value my alone time. But that doesn't mean I want to be lonely. I enjoy being around people (in doses). And being around people leads to making connections and becoming friends and forming bonds. Since this sort of thing seems to be unavoidable, Blacksburg may have been the wrong place to live.
Blacksburg is something of a transient town. Most of its inhabitants are students at Virginia Tech. Most of the people I've met since arriving in the New River Valley are graduate students. This means it's highly likely that they will leave the area once they've earned their advanced degrees. Which means that I'm making friends with these people knowing that I'll eventually have to say goodbye all over again. Even now, I know it's coming with several friends I've met over the past year. And I know I'm not ready.
I won't let that keep me from putting myself out there. Most of the people I've met have been through Northstar Church. It's a place where I've gotten more involved than I thought I would in such a short amount of time. That's not a complaint. It's actually a huge blessing. For a lot of years, I stayed away from churches in order to avoid the same kind of pain that came from saying goodbye to people. Actually, it was a different kind of pain, but it came from a similar place. It came from a lack of faith and a lack of trust.
That said, the people of Northstar have played a large role in helping me to break down the walls that I built up to keep myself from feeling any kind of emotional pain. The problem with those walls is that they've kept me from feeling a lot of emotion of any kind, even the more positive feelings. Funny how allowing people to get close can open you up to so many possibilities. My overall acceptance by these people has been somewhat unexpected, but incredibly welcome.
This past Sunday, I was approached by the pastor, Jeff, and he asked if I'd like to have coffee or grab lunch sometime this week. Since I had MLK Day off work, I suggested Monday. Then I asked if I was in trouble. Confession: I'm not used to people just asking if I'd like to join them for lunch. I know, blows your mind, too, doesn't it? I'm kind of a big deal, so you'd think people would be asking to break bread all the time.
Anyway, I met Jeff at the church office and he suggested some of the staff coming along. That was fine by me. The more the merrier. In the end, we were joined by Jeff's wife, Carolyn, and our youth and college minister, Ryan and his wife, Karin. Oh, and we ate at Five Guys Burgers and Fries, a place which, if you've never been, you should go to as soon as you get the chance. Can't be good for you, but it's all kinds of delicious.
I can't tell you everything we talked about. I can tell you that we all laughed a lot. I can't possibly know how many of the people I come into contact with over the coming months and years will stay in my life for more than just the coming months and years. I can tell you that I want to affect those people in the most positive ways that I can. I can also tell you that the people I've already come into contact with are affecting my life in incredibly positive ways.
No matter who comes and goes, I know for certain that I'm blessed.