I have had my fair share of friends coming and going in my life. I recall vividly how this revolving door affected me for so many years. I have a tendency to be overly sensitive and at times a bit needy-a recipe for some pretty intense emotional meltdowns. I didn’t know how to handle it. I spent so much time dwelling on the possible reasons for the fizzled friendships and carried so much of the blame on myself that I was continuously caught in a tailspin of emotions. After all, I do my best to nurture my friendships- provide loyalty a friendship requires to grow, wore my heart on my sleeve, and made efforts to make important what was important to them.
So, why does it seem every time I invest time in friendships that seem sturdy and sound they fall apart? What did I do wrong? Where did I go wrong? What is wrong with me?
There were so many nights I spent aching over the losses. I felt abandoned. Hurt and undervalued. I am a person who needs to communicate and often I didn’t have that opportunity. Just one day-poof. They were gone, or so it seemed. The reasons were irrelevant to me really because I was so focused on the pain from the loss, that the reasons didn’t have significance. At least not yet.
So, did what I thought every good friend should do. I reached out. Craving that communication, I had to summon up ways to get their attention. I needed something. I needed answers. I would pour my heart out into letters and emails in hopes that they would respond back to me the same way. I would internally hold onto them hoping that each day that passed the friendship may reunite.
It was sad. I was sad. I had very little confidence in who I was as a friend, and it showed through near desperate attempts to try and save something that in many cases would only cause more harm. I chased my friends out of emotion. Whether it was hurt, jealousy or fear. Reason wasn’t typically considered because I was driven by my emotionally erratic heart. It took me a while to learn just because I am affected emotionally by something, doesn’t necessarily mean go after it. Sometimes it means we don’t.
Let’s speed up time a little. I have now taken deeper root in my faith. A few more friends had come and gone. But, it didn’t hurt like it did. I should say it hurt differently. Although, there is always pain with a loss, the way I responded to it changed. Losing friends prior to my faith versus losing them after impacted me in a much different way. I didn’t see this change coming until it happened again. When it did, Instead of being hurdled inside the corner of my sadness, I confronted the reasons for the loss, whereas before I buried them.
I asked myself tough questions that came with even tougher answers. Questions like, were they a good friend to me? Why did this friendship end? Was this friendship toxic? Did they value who I was as a friend? Did I value them enough?
I had a hard time cutting ties with those friends who may not have been the best fit for my life because the pain of losing them was always greater than keeping them. That was my motto, well subconsciously it was. But, God has an amazing way of teaching us vital lessons in our lives, through our pain and losses. So, I started paying attention to that. I gave Him full control each time a friend who walk in and walk out. I started becoming confident in who I am as a friend and began to value that in myself, rather than seek that from others.
But, there was something else much different that He started showing me through this revolving door of friends. Sometimes, when a friendship would fade, there were no tough questions to ask, so there were no tougher answers to give because nothing happened. I didn’t do anything wrong, and neither did they. The friendship just ended.
What is that all about? This was the point I made a life changing choice in my life-to stop chasing my friends and start fighting for them instead.
The difference? One requires us to blindly pursue any and all friends who exit our lives out of sheer fear of feeling pain from the loss, while the other requires full trust in God that He knows best who should be in our lives and determines when those seasons change, no matter how deep it hurts.
I realized something incredibly valuable through this lesson-that when I allow God to clean and organize my life that He puts in place perfectly who needs to be there and takes out who doesn’t. I learned that just because a friend comes and goes, doesn’t always make them not a friend-it just makes them a season that needed to end.
As sad as it is for seasons to change sometimes, it is absolutely necessary to embrace new ones in order to grow spiritually.
I also realized that not all the seasons of friendships were planted with beautiful gardens and happy endings. Some of them ended harshly and abruptly. Some ended with painful tears while others ended with a bittersweet sadness, much like the one you would feel from a waving hand sending its good bye from an airplane window. Those are more of an I will forever Love you, but we have to move on from here goodbyes.
I have learned that my life will always be a revolving door, people in and people out. As a Christian especially, we need to accept that. God has many reasons to bring people in and out of our lives, and none of them are to hurt us for the intent for Him not to make something good out it.
This lesson hit me hard one day when I noticed the distance growing between a very dear friend of mine and me. I felt like I couldn’t row to the friendship fast enough, the more I did, the further I drifted. I prayed, and I prayed. I begged God, I pleaded with Him. Please, not this friend! I asked those tough questions, and some of the answers were hard to hear. I had a choice at that moment. I could revert back to my old methods, out of fear of losing, chase down the friendship I cherish so deeply, or I could fight for them instead. That fight requires God to take control. That fight is found on my knees in prayer that God’s will be done, not mine. No matter how painful, that I trust God will do what is best not only for me but for them. Gosh, how many times did I chase people when God needed them to be somewhere else? Fighting for my friends doesn’t suggest that I never tell them where they stand in my life or not to communicate how I feel. It’s not suggesting I just let go without an honest effort in fixing it. Sometimes in that fight, just that is discovered. But, it’s not from a desperate attempt to hold on to something, it’s in acceptance of the possibility it may be time to let go.
What about the friends that leave that are toxic? The same applies to them. I fight for them. I cannot say now that they were never meant to be in my life because they were. God allowed them to be there for a reason. But, if a friendship ends due to betrayal or disloyalty, I fight for them in prayer too. Just because in our season, they betrayed me, doesn’t necessarily mean they will do the same in someone else’s. Who knows if though my prayers, God will change their hearts. That’s in God’s hands. Their part in my season was to be a lesson on enduring and processing pain, and seeing the goodness God can make from it. It was about making me stronger and wiser spiritually. None of that was ever meant to burn bridges in my heart, but to build stronger ones. I have learned to embrace this. I can let go of these kind of friends and accept our season together as a lesson in a stronger faith. The pain no longer swells in bitterness, but rather transforms through it.
Is the fight for my friendships hard at times? Almost all the time. I wrestle with emotions both good and bad. Missing, hurting, wondering-I even struggle with jealousy sometimes. You come face to face quickly with your feelings, except instead of letting those emotions drive the chase, I give them to God.
I seek him first and foremost in what He wants me to do if anything. He may tell me to just be still and trust, or he may nudge me to reach out to them in sincerity and confidence, and not desperation.
The powerful truth about praying for my friendships is God is not just looking out for me and my best interest, but theirs too. Sometimes, we want so desperately to hang onto people that are just not meant to be held on to, or at least for that season.
There are so many outcomes to fighting for my friends in this way. God could be orchestrating a new season for them because He has lessons He needs to teach them, that doesn’t include me. How selfish would I be to assume these friends should stay just because I am going to feel pain from their departure? Who am I to stand in the way of their growth? The plan God has for them?
I started to find peace in this. I turned my pain into gratitude, and I give my thanks to God for every friend who comes into my life and offer him the same thanks when they leave. I have faith that whether it is that day or years down the road, my part in their season will have meaning to them, as they do in mine.
I choose to fight for every one of them, regardless of the outcome. If some friends don’t return with a new season, like the bittersweet good bye from the airplane window, I have peace- and am grateful for the time we spent in that season.