A Hard Learned Lesson On Friendship
Friendship. It’s a word that most of us are all too familiar with. Many of us have friends, or used to have friends. Maybe you were one of those people that liked to have a lot of friends. Alternatively, you could also be one of those people that prefer a small group of loyal friends around you. More than likely, you have let friends go from your life, or they have let you go. Some of those friendships may have been awesome ones while other ones were downright toxic. There are many lessons I have learned about having friends.
Friendships Don’t Last Forever
This is a fact of life. Friends are in your life for a season, and that season will come to an end someday. If we have a great friend we have had for many years, we may not even think about our friend leaving our lives. This may be because they have been in our lives so long that we can’t imagine our life without them. Many of my friendships have come and gone, and some friends were more painful to part with than others.
How a Plant is Like a Friendship
Let’s say your friendship is a tomato plant. You take the best care of the tomato plant because you care and want it to be healthy. We take care of our friendships to keep them healthy and functioning. The tomato rewards the gardener with delicious tomatoes as a thanks for the love and care. A friendship in itself is rewarding to have. You have someone to listen, spend time with,and friendships play a role in decreasing stress. When the tomato plant comes to the end of the season, it starts to lose it’s leaves, wilt, and die. You can do everything in your power to save this tomato plant. In the end, there is nothing you can do because its season is over. Same goes for friendships, when they near their end, you may do everything in your power to salvage it and nothing works when the friendship is truly at the end of its season.
There Was a Time…
I met another girl at a day camp when I was a child. It is a funny story that we both told slightly differently, but the concept was the same. I was avoiding arts and crafts because I didn’t like them and would rather explore outside. There I sat on some steps, looking at all the beautiful trees that lie before me. The weather was nice and the trees provided me with shade. Out of what feels like nowhere this girl comes and shows me this “shortcut” down the stairs by climbing down the rocks beside it. The rocks were the same length as the stairs, by the way, but it was the “cool” way to go. I tried it, tumbled, fell, and ran screaming and crying to my mom. I hid under the picnic table my mom was sitting at.
Two Years Later…
My family moved to a new neighborhood. There was a girl watching across the street. I was so excited and wanted to show her my room. We ended up hanging out for a while outside. It was a while before we even realized we had met before at that day camp.
We Became Inseparable
Before we knew it, it was hanging out nearly every day. If we didn’t see each other for one day, it seemed like the world was falling apart. Our friendship grew strong and as we got older it was able to withstand many storms. Our peers at times became jealous, and years later people would say, “You’re still friends with (name here)?” Some people tried to split our friendship apart, but we were able to recognize it and ignore it. There are times we were frustrated, but those times passed.
It consisted of happiness, sadness, laughter, and honesty. We were blessed to be able to know each other through many seasons of our lives. From playing make believe to planning fun Friday nights, our friendship lasted more than twelve years. To be honest, I never wanted it to end. I thought I would have this friend forever. We were two crazy kids that one day wanted to go to the same college and be roommates. We promised to be each others maids of honor one day. That was a promise I meant and kept, as she was the maid of honor at my wedding. In all honesty, at that time, there was no one else I wanted more to be my maid of honor. No other friend stuck with me through all my troubles for that long.
I Was Faded Out
At first, I didn’t realize our friendship was ending. Things were blissful even though there was a living distance. After all, she was my best friend forever, she knew where I stood with her. When she came back to town, I became overjoyed. I hoped things would return to normal. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. I am not a fan of the “fade out” method. either. Instead of telling you, “This friendship isn’t going to work out anymore,” they decide to limit contact with you. You aren’t told what is going on, but all of a sudden your friend is being evasive. They may hang out with you, but start with shorter periods of time. You notice they make excuses to go, even if the “excuse” is true. Something may feel off, or you may not know what happened until your friend isn’t seeing you anymore.
Then They No Longer Answer
After you have been completely faded out, any attempts to talk are short lived or completely ignored. You have been demoted from best friend forever to acquaintance. It broke my heart. I remember hearing from someone that my friend was working in my local area and to stop by some time. My thought was I got completely set up after I appeared and my friend didn’t recognize me. I felt hurt. Understandably, I was dressed up because I had an interview that day, I cut my long hair, and I wore glasses instead of contacts. Even if that would make sense, I still felt hurt. I was trying to talk to her like good old times and she evaded me like I was some creep. When that was all figured out, I stopped by to see her a different time. We would sit and chat.
I Felt That Comfort Again
I felt that comfort again like…hey, this is another chance. This could work! I stopped by a few times and she would chat when she wasn’t busy with customers. It was a lot of fun and I had a great time. We were so going to hang out and be best buds again!
My Hopes Were Short Lived
She did mention that the store she worked in was closing and she was looking for employment elsewhere. So, I didn’t see her again. When her birthday came up a little over a month later I sent her a message on social media since I knew I could get a hold of her that way. She said, “Thanks!” and that was it. The last message she ever sent me over social media was on my birthday, and I felt hurt because she didn’t remember. She probably didn’t even know it was my birthday. After all those years…
Officially I Knew
It hit me like a brick – it was over. She was moving on and she was happier without me in her life. The season was over, and apparently it wasn’t meant to last forever as I hoped it would. I may never see her again. It’s not likely we’ll ever be friends again. I felt as if she ripped a part of me away and took it with her. A part of me that I can never have back. The memories are what I have to look back on, and so much of my childhood involved her that when speaking of my childhood it feels impossible not to mention her.
To This Day…
I still don’t know why the friendship ended. It has broken my heart because I could never figure out why. I would rather have been told to my face, “I don’t want to be friends anymore,” than be faded out. Some people think, “I don’t want to be friends anymore,” is “mean” and “fading out” is better. This is a HUGE lie! If someone was ending a friendship with you, wouldn’t you want to know why? Would you want to hear, “I don’t want to be friends anymore,” instead of you not having slightest notion that they wanted to stop being your friend?
Do Us All A Favor
When you’re ending a friendship with someone, say it straight up! Don’t beat around the bush for months trying to make it a distant memory. A true friend will be honest, and say that they are moving on in life or they don’t want to be friends. You will have been told the truth and it will hurt, but at least you will know. You can say, “They didn’t want to be friends anymore.” At least there is some closure there. Even though it would have hurt, I wish my friend would have said, “I don’t want to be friends anymore.” But she chose to make it easier on herself, maybe thinking it would be easier on me to “fade out”, but it wasn’t.
My heart still feels hardened toward her. I try to forgive in my mind, and I try not to think about it. If the opportunity ever presented itself to try and become friends again, I don’t think I would be able to. I would be afraid of being hurt for a third time. Sometimes I’m afraid my heart couldn’t take another chance. While it doesn’t seem that it would be likely ever again, you never know what life throws at you. I wish she could give me an answer while I feel stuck, never knowing why. Meanwhile, she lives as happily and who knows? Perhaps she doesn’t feel guilty at all.
The Season Is Over
I continue to tell myself that the season is over. Perhaps God only wanted that friend in my life for so long for whatever the reason. The friendship was fun while it lasted, and there are plenty of great memories to laugh about. Moving on isn’t always easy, but it opens the door of opportunity to make new friends and to start new chapters of your life. I know that God will always be the most true and honest friend I have. God cares and everytime you seek Him, He will be there to listen.
James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
God is the friend that isn’t ever going to leave your side. He will see you through every season of your life.
What are the lessons you have learned from friendships? Share in the comments below!
[Image Credit: Jamie Taylor on unsplash.com]