Talking with a friend lately set in motion a whole train of thoughts. It was just the mention of people drifting in and out of our lives that made me remember friends I had in the past who disappeared for some reason.
I am a firm believer that little here on earth is meant to be forever. So friends disappearing is sad but not something I find strange or disturbing. The reason they disappear from my life however is another matter.
Sometimes I have to examine myself as to why it was they left or why I left them. Was it something I should have done differently? Is there a way to revitalize the friendship? And do I want to?
As far as I can remember there have been three major reasons in my life why people left.
The most common one is just simply drifting apart. Old school friends, everyone taking another route in life, finding new friends along the way. You know how that goes. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s the natural way …
The second reason happened to me twice.
First a very good friend discovered that her husband cheated on her and divorced him. I stepped in to help. We went to court together, I watched her children, I visited her every week to listen to her and we went on vacation together. Just normal when you are close friends. But after ten years she was still angry, still convinced the whole world was against her and still expected everyone, her boss included, to cater to her needs. So when I slowly tried to tell her that it was not working and that she needed to get a grip on her life again she became very angry with me and decided a few years later that I was not a real friend after all. Exit friend …
This happened to me again some years later. A friend needed help, I stepped in and after a few years I realized I had done it again … I stayed in a one-way-friendship. When I needed help from her she became angry, because “How can you ask me for help? I am the one who needs help!”
Looking back I can see now that I have been comforting and enabling both of them far too long … they got used to the pampering and attention.
When it becomes a one-way-friendship, it’s never good … at least not for too long.
The third reason probably hurts the most. That’s when friends decide to go because your convictions don’t match anymore.
When I became a Christian some of my friends were shocked. They could deal with someone who didn’t take matters of faith too seriously and was “a good sport” at party’s, but now they were confronted with someone who’s life took another direction altogether.
The strange thing was … my “unbelieving” friends had no problem at all with my change of life. They had been following my search with interest and were happy I had found answers. None of them left.
But my church going friends were a different matter. As one of them put it, “I can deal with you when you are like me, but now that you are so serious about it I feel convicted every time I see you. I want you out of my life.”
Some were angry about my choice for a certain church. It was different from what we were used to (I grew up in a modern, somewhat liberal church) and they had a hard time understanding why I felt the need to change. “You could have stayed, and be like us!” We filled many a night, talking and discussing, but slowly they faded from my life.
It did hurt and sometimes it still does. Mostly because there was not much I could do about it. I didn’t want to lose my new-found faith to accommodate them. But it is sad …
I do remember friends I left behind. I didn’t feel comfortable around them anymore, and with some I just stopped calling. The easy way out. I’m not proud of that. It’s not something I would do now …
Some friends however do stay and they are a treasure.
I met my best friend when we were ten years old. We have lived our life together! She is awesome! And even though we think very differently we love each other and care for each other. I have the best of times when I am with her.