A few years back, I came across a model for relationships that has stayed with me. It said people come to your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
Folks who come in for a reason are like guardian angels who swoop in for a short period of time – right when we need them. Folks who are in for a season are with us for a few years – bringing wonderful memories and moments from those times. And, folks who are in for a lifetime find ways to stay with us all the way through.
It gets harder to maintain close relationships as we grow – especially if physical proximity isn’t a given. We change, others change, contexts change, and so on. A lot of the angst in relationships (as in life) comes from an inability to deal with this impermanence.
The beauty of the reason-season-lifetime model is that it reminds us of that impermanence. In retrospect, I can think back to a couple of relationships that didn’t end well – but which clearly existed for a reason or season. And, I can also think of a couple that fizzled out despite an incredible season. Trying to extend these into relationships that last a lifetime was futile.
Understanding and accepting past relationships for what they were enables us to forgive, forget, and simply savor the special moments.
It also enables us to let go of unnecessary baggage and travel lighter. On long journeys, that’s a great way to travel.