Relationships are a curious thing, whether friendships, family, or lovers. They are never the same. They are never easy. They take work and sometimes lead to feelings no one wants to face. But we still crave them. We so desire a community, a tribe, that we are willing to go through the pain and heartache that may overtake us to feel the comfort and love of someone else. Why do we seek out others to make them a part of our life? What about a person makes them worth the trouble of trusting, of loving, of being vulnerable with? When you find those special people, how do you make it all work? How do you keep fighting when you feel like it’s too hard?

I have just gone through a season of life that brought me a tight group of friends. We would laugh, encourage, play pranks, sing, talk, and love one another. Whether family karaoke nights together or a quiet evening in the hot tub sipping wine and talking, I knew I had relationships I cherished. But as is life, people change with their circumstances. Some got new jobs that took up most of their time. Others experienced great frustration at home or dealt with the aftermath of their child’s cancer. All I could do was watch as these relationships deteriorated and disappeared. It was exhausting, and depressing. Yet I couldn’t imagine not seeking another friendship, another companion to connect with.

The next season has led to more hurt and more questions as I am experiencing an overwhelming amount of grief. I have watched my loved ones lose their spouses, cousins, grandmothers, and most recently, I have lost my dad. I never understood the stages of grief. I had never gone through a loss that took so much out of me. My dad and I always had a different relationship. I moved out of state as a teenager because I couldn’t deal with his firm opinions. As the years went by, things would seem better and sometimes much worse, until he learned to respect who I was as an adult, a mom, and a wife. It was a hard road that many times left me wanting no part of that relationship. But in the last couple years there was a shift, a new respect in our friendship and a desire to hear one another. We shared deep conversations and traded notes about books we were reading. We journeyed through spiritual ideas that opened my eyes to more of the life around me. Last Christmas, my husband and I took a road trip with him and my mom. It was a crazy 48-hour drive across 5 states and back to pick up a truck my dad was thrilled to own. It was the bonding experience that finally connected me to him, the time spent in close quarters that made me appreciate my dad.

Yet, through this pain of losing him suddenly, I am craving love and comfort more despite the loss or threat of future loss. I am learning how to face the grief and look forward to the new relationships that will grow through my experiences. I am realizing it is the connection and depth of the relationship that I will miss the most about my dad.

Without these losses, I wouldn’t be growing in empathy for others, love for those around me, and a grace for those that have passed. Knowing everyone experiences these desires for love, for relationship, for community gives me the confidence to look people in the eyes and smile, not because it’s easy, but because it is worth it! I don’t know why or how relationships begin and flourish. I do know that building a loving community of friends is worth every heartache I have experienced.