Friendships are hard and finding a good friend, can sometimes be even harder. The most difficult thing about friendships is that just when you are finally comfortable in the friendship, it seems to end. Circumstances change and people move away either physically or emotionally.
I have just had an old friend visit from far away and I recall how devastated I was when she first moved away. Genuine, deep friendships have never come easily to me, for years I specialised in the shallow, superficial kind. It has taken hard work to learn how to be a friend and start enjoying friendship.
Friendships ending, is even harder when for some reason, which we cannot figure out, you don’t get along anymore, or you fall out of favor with them, or the just reject you. Where once, the two of you were as “thick as thieves” you now interact in stilted silences. One day it was beautiful and then the next day, strangers.
These situations are difficult. As an individual we often spend hours trying to figure out what we did wrong that they no longer want to spend time with us. We wonder what the reason for the rejection is. We also wonder what we could have done differently, making efforts to revive the friendship we once had. We even go as far as confronting the said friend only to hear that yes, things have changed, but there is nothing we have done wrong. Even then we argue that there must be something because the friendship is not the same anymore and they don’t seem to “feel about us like we feel about them.”
In truth, there is often not a reason for why we drift apart, we just did. This makes us reluctant to be a friend to someone again. We feel betrayed, we don’t understand and often we are not prepared to take the risk and invest in another friendship, just in case, that one ends too! Even our existing friendships become awkward as we wait for rejection from them too.
I struggled with friendships and then God asked me some questions which helped me to learn an important lesson, here they are:
- Do you believe that God is in control of your life? I don’t believe in coincidence, I believe that everything in life happens to fulfill God’s purpose in our lives. There is nothing about our lives that He will say: “Oops, I didn’t mean for that to happen.” He is in total control, He has a plan and His purposes will be achieved. So, if God is in control, He is also in control of the people I meet and interact with in life. He is also in control of the people who come into my life and the people who leave.
- Do you believe that God can bring people into your life to be your friend? I have experienced meeting people, that I may never have met otherwise, or wanted to meet. However, I met them, got to know them and in the end thanked God for them. These are people that have blessed you and been good for your soul, who have nurtured and loved you and made you, feel cherished.
- Now, do you think those people have played a role in the person you are today? My friends have influenced me, challenged me, encouraged me, dried my tears, told me off, covered my back, made me laugh etc. They have loved me as I am and called me to be better than I am. God has brought them into my life and they have played an enormous role in who I am. Some friendships have been life changing, others have been character refining.
- Is it possible that God would allow a friendship to end because the role that person is playing in our life has ended and does not fulfill His purpose for our life anymore? When a friendship has ended, this can be difficult to accept. Especially when you don’t have many friendships to start with. When God causes them to move away physically, it is easier to accept. But when they have moved away emotionally, we can have a hard time letting go. Is it possible that the emotional distance is for God’s plan to make space for new people in your life.
People who are not joined to you, by marriage vows and family bonds, cannot be made to stay. It does not mean that they are bad for you, it just means that their role in the story of your life has ended and the best gift we can give them, is for us to develop the gift of goodbye. WE have to learn to recognise when a friendship story has ended and stop trying to resurrect something that has died. When their story is dead, there is a new story God has planned for you. Our goal is to start wanting what God wants you to have, the friendships He desires for you.
We are to be positive about a new friendship that will influence you in different ways, continuing His purpose in making you the person he wants you to be. We are to let go, say thank you for what you had and look to what is new friend God is bringing in your life. If God wants you to have that friendship in your life, you will have it.
If it takes too much sweat to keep it, perhaps you don’t need it.
Learning to say goodbye, is choosing to have an open hand when it comes to friendship. By this I mean that we don’t try to hold onto people who are moving out of our lives, but we keep our hand open, ready to let them go and waiting to see who God is going to bring into our friendship hand. When our hands are open in friendship, God is able to bring people in and out of our lives who will shape us for His purpose and His pleasure and then we will experience the good that comes with friendship.
We are to have that attitude that is looking for the new thing that God is doing in our friendships. “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19)
It also means that our open hand allows God to bring old friends back into our lives to enjoy again, without us feeling emotionally damaged when they need to leave again. They can truly be old friends to be delighted in and cherished.
Lord, help me to trust You with all of my friendships. Help me not to so desperately hold on to them, but instead to hold onto You as the author and perfector of my faith. Thank you for the friends you have brought into my life, who have contributed to the person I am. Help me to have an open hand with my friends, always looking at what new person you are bringing into my life.