Once we move beyond our school years, it becomes clear  there are relationships that are  important to us only in the time frame in which they occur. A season if you will. Once completed, we move our separate ways. We may recall them with fondness and nostalgia, but we understand the time for the friendship or romantic relationship has passed.

Sometimes a relationship, of any sort, comes from a reason, a shared journey or interest. Often, there is something for us to learn about ourselves, an uncovering of who we are and what is important. Or perhaps, a life lesson, something that we will carry forward into the rest of our lives.

Then there are the lifetime relationships and they have a quality all their own. You don’t always know when you meet these people that they will be “lifers”. They can share many of the same qualities of those who come into your life for a reason. The difference, is that as you evolve, in your own way, so do they. You don’t even need to live in the same place for this to occur. Sometimes you will hear a comment like “ We can go years without seeing each other and pick up where we left off”. This is truest of friendships. I think though, it is what people hope for when they say they are seeking their soul mate.

The question of soulmates

It’s the idea of seeking a soul mate, that makes me rather uncomfortable, because I don’t know that we can know if someone is or not. I think about how I have changed in the last thirty years. How the act of living has changed me, washing away some characteristics and bringing forth others.  I am indeed a very different person. I think of it as “ life elements” such as births, deaths, grief, disappointment, accomplishments and joy. All of these have rubbed off the outer layers of beliefs and ideas, revealing a deeper, stronger and more varied person than I expected.

In a long-term committed relationship, we hope for lifetime, plan on it in fact. When we meet someone who is special enough for us to consider taking that step with us, what happens if our personal evolution takes us further from our original ideas rather than closer? Isn’t this one of the explanations for a marriage breakdown – we grew apart? It seems an easy way out, on the surface, and yet those faced with it would argue strongly, it is not.

Letting go the desire of certainty

What if neither lifetime commitment or soul mate is an accurate description of what is possible?If we let go of the desire of certainty and accept that all things change, including us, then perhaps it gives us powerful reasons to stay in relationship or move out of it. Neither path is easy, but both have a place.

I recognize that this flies in the face of what we consider religiously and culturally acceptable. I am not suggesting that we take on important relationships with the idea of it works until it doesn’t. Good, lifetime relationships exist because both people make each other and themselves within the relationship a priority. However, we also know there are relationships in which the people in them are unhappy and unfulfilled. Somewhere along the way, who they were going into the relationship and what they wanted from it, changed or no longer exists.

Since we can’t really know, when we meet someone, whether they are for a season, reason or lifetime how do we navigate these relationships? With honesty, kindness and love is perhaps the best answer I can come up with. Stay open to what is possible with those who come into your life, in whatever way they arrive. What they have to teach you won’t be known until further down the road, but you have to be on the road to meet them.

Season, reason or life are all relationships to be appreciated for what they bring to us and change in us. All of them, regardless of duration, have created a richer life than had they not been present. I would suggest the same is true of you.

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