This story is written for anyone who has ever experienced the pain of a broken relationship. Sometimes, as we go through life, we lose family or friends. Sometimes we lose them to death. But perhaps the most painful losses come when we lose those we once loved to life.
Best friends change (as do we) and friendships end or get put on hold indefinitely. In spite of sincere “until death do us part” promises, love affairs and marriages sometimes end. We sometimes have new opportunities to rebuild those relationships. But sometimes we come to know that those relationships were a treasure for a season only and we come to accept they will remain a part of the past.
And sometimes we learn the beauty of one of God’s Loveliest Promises: Behold I am doing a new thing! Isaiah 43:19
Sometimes God creates brand new relationships from old relationships we have had. Flowers burst forth from yesterday’s seeds, but they are not yesterday’s flowers. The following story is a combination of my own personal experience and the experiences of others I have known. Perhaps you will see yourself or someone who you once held close to your heart.
The Encounter: Seeing Deb Again
I saw an old friend today. I’ll call her Deb (not her real name). She looked reminiscent of the person I used to know. Her eyes and smile were the same. When she laughed, it was the same. I smiled to myself, remembering long ago times.
But with the joy came the pain of never quite understanding why we could not make the magic of a youthful friendship last. After years of a close friendship that had begun during our teen years, one day Deb sent me a letter telling me she did not want to get together any more. She said she knew she could not explain in person, so she had chosen this route to communicate. She said some things had changed in her life, and she just needed to “move on.” I remember feeling physically ill.
Deb and I had been so close we were each other’s maid/matron of honor at our weddings. It was difficult to look at my own wedding pictures after that. As the years passed, I would vacillate between emotions. One minute I was filled with remorse that I had done something to so deeply offend her. The next minute, I was shaking with anger because I was sure I had done nothing wrong.
I respected her request not to contact her. After awhile, it almost became my badge of honor that I was able to resist the urge to contact her. As years passed, the acute pain left. But the hurt became like a deep muscle trigger point. When I experienced other losses, it hurt. And it hurt worse because it felt like losing Deb’s friendship all over again. Without even realizing it, the loss of her friendship had been the beginning of a bitter root inside of me. And with each loss in life, I fed that bitter root.
Now there she was, friendly and smiling. But not like she used to be. And I hated that I found myself longing for her to be who she once was. While I was considering my feelings after our brief meeting, The Lord of Time spoke to me.
The Encounter: Meeting the Lord of Time
He asked, “Are you the same person you were back then?”
He hardly gave me time to answer before He interjected, “Wait! Before you answer that, I’d like to invite you to take a trip back in Time with Me. You have only viewed things from your vantage point for all these years. Let’s see what things look like with The Light of My Truth! Are you brave enough now to face Time Past?”
My hands were shaking. But I really wanted answers. I nodded a silent yes.
The Lord of Time spoke again.
“There are some Rules you must follow in order for Me to allow you back into Time Past. You may only observe and learn. You cannot intervene or try to change anything. There is no place for ‘should haves’ there. What happened happened.
You may not judge. It is not your job to assign blame or give rewards.
And you must wear these special glasses that will allow you to see everyone in Time Past as I do.”
He handed me the glasses. One Lens was marked “Mercy.” One was marked “Grace.”
The Land of Time Past
When we arrived at Time Past, I was amazed to see how young Deb and I were then. I was surprised at how many things seemed super serious to us and how many things didn’t seem serious at all. I was surprised at how much we thought we knew and how much in actuality we didn’t know.
I was surprised at what things frightened us and yet we brushed them off smugly, as if it were nothing. I remembered a few times when we had disagreements. And once, we had even had a time of a few months apart. But we somehow found our way back to each other. And so we were still friends, better than ever.
She was my best friend. That’s really special, you know. Being a best friend implies buddies forever, or so I thought. But we began to grow. Life began to change around us. From this perspective, I could see us struggling for both freedom and shelter in our lives. We were just teenagers. The issues of when to hang on and when to let go were battles to be fought everyday. We looked to each other to make sense of a world that was changing as fast as we were.
Sometimes it was good. We were still in perfect step, in a kind of joint cheer of “Look out world, here we come!” Sometimes we were so out of step, it was painful to think of it even now. Times of withdrawal and hiding from each other. Times of being together and yet sensing we were apart at a much deeper level. Times of tugs of war when we said what we thought we were feeling. And yet those angry words only matched the unspoken cries of our heart, which was, “if everyone else leaves me, will you still stay? Do you still love me or even like me? Will you always be my best friend?”
I tightened the rules. I tried to enforce them. Hey, I lived by those rules, but she didn’t!
As I thought of how hard I had tried to maintain that relationship, I felt waves of anger rising within me. Suddenly Time Past started fading from view. I asked The Lord of Time why the scene was fading. I didn’t have my answers yet!
Revelation in Time Past
“You cannot stay here in Time Past,” He said. “You broke the rules!”
I started to protest, “No, I didn’t!”
Quietly He said, “You took off your glasses. You were blaming.”
Painful as it was, I really wanted to know more about Time Past. I put the glasses back on and looked again.
“Sorry,” I mumbled.
As the scene became clearer again, He showed me two babies in a womb. This seemed very curious. It was if He had dialed the wrong scene. I started to tell Him. He raised His Finger to His Lips.
“Sh-h-h,” He said. “Just watch!”
I saw the two little ones wrapped around each other. They seemed so peaceful together. But then they began to grow. It became harder and harder for them to move in that cramped space. They bumped into each other at every turn. It now seemed they were fighting each other.
I turned to The Lord and said, “How can they survive?”
He said to me, “What do you think they need? Do they need each other?”
“No,” I said. “They cannot help each other. They need space!”
“Why is that?” He asked.
“Because they are growing!”
Suddenly the scene refocused on Deb and me.
“What do they need?” He asked.
“Space,” I said quietly.
“Because they are growing.” I answered.
Intense grief overwhelmed me. “But I needed her! Don’t take her away. What lesson am I supposed to learn from that? That everyone I love will leave me, as we grow? That I can never count on happiness to stay?”
I jerked away from His Arms of supposed Comfort.
“I knew it was a mistake to come here. There are no lessons. Only torture.”
“Then perhaps you are ready to leave this Time. But I want to make one stop on the way back.”
The Time of The Possible
The scene mercifully faded. We were now in another Time.
“What is this place?” I asked.
“This is The Time of The Possible,” He answered.
I saw two women. With a start, I realized one of them was me. The other looked familiar.
The Lord said, “If you wish, you may meet. Simply introduce yourself and see where things go.”
I felt curiously drawn to the other woman. It was funny. It almost felt as if I knew her from somewhere, but that could not be. I had never been here before. I introduced myself. She was friendly. I asked her how long she had been in this Time. She said she was passing through. I asked her where she was bound. She said she wasn’t sure. She said anything was possible!
We passed some time together. I learned about her. It was odd. She didn’t seem to have a past. Nor did I. And because we were both just passing through, we really didn’t have any expectations about the future either.
The Lord nudged me. “Time to go,” He said.
Present Day Time
My feet hit the ground gently in this Place called Present Day Time.
“So what did you learn?” The Lord asked.
I felt a little disoriented from my travels. I sat for a few minutes, trying to process what I had learned.
“Well, I learned I look a lot older now,” I said with a half sad smile. I then laughed. “But so does Deb!”
“I guess I never realized how much we were changing. And I really didn’t know we were growing. I guess if I had even thought about growing, I’d think we would be growing together and not growing apart.”
The Lord was speaking. “Look at the branches of the trees. Are they growing into each other?”
“No, they are each reaching out, trying to find their place in the sun.”
I was beginning to understand.
“That woman in The Time of The Possible. It was Deb, wasn’t it?”
The Lord nodded. “She is the woman of today. Just as all of my creations do, she has shed part of her past. The person you have held so tightly in your memory really does not exist anymore. In fact, it is the same with you. You are not that person of the past any more.”
“Will Deb and I ever meet again?”
“It’s possible. When both of you are ready to look upon the past with only the eyes of Grace and Mercy, you may be ready to meet the people you are today. But if you choose to meet, hold on to your new meeting gently. The Present allows no regrets from the past and makes no promises about the future.”
Will I meet her again? I don’t know. The answer for now lies in the The Time of The Possible …
Post Story Thoughts To Ponder: Truths about Freezing People in Time
Is there anyone you have frozen in time?
The Truth is the person you once knew is gone. Grieve if you must, but accept that reality and re-set your thoughts.
If you connect with them in this present day time, extend Grace and Mercy over both of your pasts. Start with this day, free of any expectations except to learn more about who they are now.
People freezing can happen with anyone, even those in your present day world. It can happen with your own family.
Do you find yourself longing for the person you married? Do you frequently compare the person they are today to the one you used to know?
What if you just met them today without bringing along anything from the past? Would you work harder to get to know them?
Would you be more forgiving if you saw any offense as their first offense instead of offenses in a long line of many over the years?
Have you frozen yourself in time, grieving for the person you used to be?
Do you measure yourself by yesterday’s standards? Do you glue yourself to the past by frequently using statements, such as “I always …?”
Is it possible for you to look at yourself in Time Past and Time Present through the lenses of Mercy and Grace? If you could speak to the you in your past with the wisdom you now have and with all the Mercy and Grace of the Lord, what would you say?
What if you truly lived the Truth, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life!”
Exploring The World of The Time of The Possible
There is a whole world of people waiting to meet you. Some may look like people you used to know. Some may look like people you think you know now. One may look a lot like you. Explore the world of The Time of The Possible. And be gentle!