After four years at Point Loma I have accumulated numerous acquaintances. Some of them grew into semester long friendships, others into what I anticipate to be life long friendships. Many of them will fade away quickly,b ut the overall effect of the people at Point Loma will stay with me forever. Some people get frustrated with relationships that have an expiration date. I have a friend, for example, who has a hard time investing in relationships she knows wont last long.
I am the opposite. I am willing to listen to a lady pour her soul out to me for four hours on an airplane, knowing full well I will never speak to her again. This expends huge amounts of energy - and the results are, by definition, unknown. But I think that relating to people is an intrinsic good. The relationship does not have to function towards any particular end for it to be worth our time. All relationships will end at some point.
All of those acquaintances I will inevitably lose touch with were not a waste of time. Even the smallest interactions were treasures because people are valuable. They bare the image of God, and as co-sharers in God's creation no breath shared is wasted breath.
This is not to say relationships can't be destructive, everybody can see the fallen nature of our existence. In many ways our culture's obsession with functional relationships feeds our dysfunction. Intimate relationships are gaged by meeting "needs." We start to consume people, valuing them in relation to how they function in our life.
Treating people for intrinsic worth is at the heart of being a disciple. The Kingdom turns our functional relationships upside down. The meek, the poor, the broken hearted, these are not very useful kinds of people. Yet they are the ones who are find riches in the Kingdom of God.
Moments we share with people on the bus, behind the counter at a store, and on the street are all gifts.
So the many people who will forget me in two minutes will always be worth it.