When we all come back together, we no longer come with the same stories. We come with different stories. Ones that the Lord has so perfectly written for each of us as individuals. My past 316 days look different than Sydney's past 316 days and her days look different than Elaine's.
For the four years that we attended college together our days all looked similar and were deeply intertwined. We processed each moment together as they happened. But now our days are all different and we don't process together as we used to.
Now we are all long-distance friends. And long-distance friendships look different than the days of college when late nights together were the norm and a weekend apart seemed like eternity.
Now we have eight different lives that intertwine in beautiful ways, but not quite as close as the vines of the McMansion. We are phone calls, letters, road trips, and plane rides away from one another.
And when we all come back together again, we are hit with the reality: we do not understand one another anymore.
We do not understand each other's days because they are all different. By the grace of God, we can try to understand; we can ask questions, listen, and share endless stories. But ultimately we're no longer all students, living in the McMansion, leading Young Life, and playing around in Chapel Hill.
That's the thing that comes with long-distance friendships after college... you stop having the natural understanding of one another's lives. No one knows what it is like to be an intern at Crooked Creek Ranch in the Rocky Mountains and to have their world completely rocked by the Fraser Valley. They do not know, because that isn't part of their story. Their stories are their own.
I do not know what it is like to be a seminary student ... or to have a full-time job in internet marketing research... or to be a graduate student ... or to live in Charleston ... or to stay in Chapel Hill after college ... or to be an intern at Trail West ... or to apply to school again to be a guidance counselor ... or to join a small group through the Summit church ... or to plan a wedding... or to work from a cubicle. I do not know because it is not my story.
When you realize that your best friends, who once knew every single thing about you and your days, does not really understand anymore it is hard... really hard. Because, ultimately, we all desire to be understood and to be known.
But then... Jesus. Jesus who knows each of us intimately. Jesus who is deep inside each of us. Jesus who gives us grace unending. Jesus who grants us understanding that goes beyond our human comprehension. Jesus who drew us all together our freshman year of college. Jesus who is the Author of the most beautiful stories. Jesus who is Grace.
He is the grace we give to others when they do not understand. He is the grace we show ourselves when we do not understand. He is the grace that is breathed through each conversation. He is the grace that allows us to forgive. He is all the grace we need.