One thing you won’t find on the Mercy Ships promo videos is the culture of hello’s and goodbyes. If you ever come to the ship, be forewarned; it’s really hard.
I am not the kind of person who attaches themselves to others easily. I don’t like to feel vulnerable and I’m not really so fond of commitment either. Typically I am a meanderer. I enjoy meeting all kinds of people. I don’t like to seclude myself in a group of only four or five friends. I’d rather bounce from group to group and be friends with everyone.
That’s probably why I went to almost 30 weddings in four years.
One of the hardest things about my first two weeks on the ship was being new. I am use to knowing everyone and suddenly I knew no one. And no one knew me. I felt like a lost little girl on her first day of kindergarten for at least fourteen days.
But that was a few months ago. Now I have made friends. I have worked through the awkward stages of new friendships. I have let myself need people, which has been a little scary. A little different.
On the ship we work together; we eat together; we live together; we have fun together; we shop together; we exercise together. It’s intense to say the least. You really cannot hide your true self. It’s bound to be seen.
There is a turnover about every three months here (so I have heard). It’s in September. Many of the people I arrived with have left or will be leaving soon. An it makes me sad. Don’t they know they can’t leave till I say it’s okay?
Just when ship life was beginning to stabilize it presumably is becoming unsettled. It like someone picking up a snow globe and shaking it long and hard. The snow is falling.
As new crew arrives I find my normally extremely extraverted self shying away when people tell me they are only staying for ten weeks or two months. You know your hello will quickly morph into goodbye. And that might make you sad.
It has made me realize how relational we are. We grow up wanting to be married. People have children. Our spirits need companionship and friendship or we feel lonely. We were created for kinship. Ultimately, for kinship with our Maker.
But all of life is a matter of perspective. We see want we want too.
I am so thankful for the friends I have already made on the ship. I am collecting an army of people I would like to one day visit. And I would have rather known them for a short time than never have known them at all.
The joy and the pain are so close. Such a thin line divides them. But is that not the risk we take in love?