“Wear the world like a loose garment, which touches us in a few places and there lightly.” St Francis of Assisi.
“You ought to wear this world like an overcoat,” Mama Bessie.
This world. Due to my grandmother’s influence, I compare it to an overcoat, meaning, something to be cast off when you reach your destination. It’s no longer needed in your new environment and the protection it affords becomes obsolete. Some folks liken it to moving, perhaps to a new home, where the cares of your previous life were left behind. But the gist is the same. We are to travel light through this world as pilgrims on a journey, as did Abraham and other heroes of faith, until we find the place we can call home.
It’s been often quoted that you don’t want to be so heavenly bound that you are no earthly good. So, yes, it’s good and right to think of heaven as our home and this world as our journey to make it there. But what do we do until then? How do we make our home now?
The need to fit in is great. It presses on us from childhood until we leave this place. We are creatures created for fellowship – made to have at least one other person on this earthly plane we can lean on. We are not designed to be solitary (although, there is much good to be had in that state, too). But many of us strive all our lives to find our tribe, or that one person to whom we can say: You, too?
I am that person who has often gloried in my solitude, but only because sometimes I felt there was no one like me. Friendships have left me disappointed when it was revealed that we were very different in some crucial aspect, sometimes to my horror. But I keep trying. In the interim, I’ve learned to detach myself from pretenders and perpetrators early on. It’s just less messy. If I wait too late it’s usually a bigger deal, with something small being blown way out of proportion because we just weren’t compatible.
I used to be really hurt about these breakups until I saw (sometimes, much later) that we were not on the same page, even from the outset. And now I can view those friendships through a more forgiving lens. I see it clearly now. They were searching for the same thing as me. Only in this effort were we similar and united. A true fellowship may need more.
Fellow: a person in the same position, involved in the same activity, or otherwise associated with another.
Though our paths converged for a short time, and we benefited from that relationship, the fellowship we created was not real. In many other areas we were unequal. Our only common interest was that we were looking for a friend. Sadly, that wasn’t enough to carry us through thin times. After a while, our paths took us in different directions.
“They went out from among us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have surely remained with us …” (1 John 2:19 KJV)
We were not meant to continue together, forever, because we were not the same. They could not go with me on my journey, but neither would God take me on theirs. It’s like no fault insurance. No one is to blame.
We’re meant to keep trying to find our place in this world. At the ripe old age of (mumble, mumble – you didn’t really think I would tell!) I’m still looking. If we believe heaven is our home, it’s only natural for us to seek it here. No, we can’t create everlasting heaven here on earth. But we can create pockets of it and make this our home, for what it’s worth, for a short time. Even as we press towards our main goal, we’ll continue loving folks, and making friends along the way. We must keep searching for our tribe.