Monday, March 23, 2009

So Long, Farewell...

Sometimes the best thing we can do for a friendship and the well-being of our hearts is just to let the friendship go. Change is part of life, and relationships change as well.

I don't know if you've ever had this happen to you, but it's hard when someone who was more than a fringe type of friend (see my post, Love That Fringe, below) cuts you out, without explanation or a clear reason in your mind. The book of Proverbs says, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." I always understood this to mean that the closer we are to someone, the more they can hurt us, but if we are close to them, the hurt can be overcome by the love we have for our friend.

But what do you do when you realize a good friend has shifted to the fringe of your life, and you don't know what happened to cause the change?

I live in a military area. It's pretty safe to say that my entire circle of friends is made up of people with military ties, either currently or formerly. Dear friends who became like family often move, and that always hurts. They leave behind a hole that must be filled, where once there were smiles, laughter, good times, and even some hard times. I suppose I should be used to it by now after seventeen years.

With the advancement of the on-line world, keeping in touch has been much easier with Facebook and e-mail. I have literally dozens of friends all over the world now and every time I hear from them, I smile and I'm glad we still have that connection. In fact, my husband and I had a great time on Saturday night with one couple (Love ya, Nick & Kineta, if you guys are reading this!).

There does come a time, though, when we need to release friendships and allow them to fade into memories. This has happened to me not so long ago with two particular friendships. I can't deny it's painful, but I've seen that there are people in my life right now in front of me who have become the ones I can laugh with, cry with, and pray with.

My words are simple: don't belabor a lost friendship. I spent time and tears trying to figure out "what went wrong," and no answers came. I sent an e-mail or two, a card, left a message or two, sent a small birthday gift in one instance, and nothing. Lest I sound like a stalker--LOL!--all of this happened over the course of months, to years, in the case of one friendship. I realized I had to let them go, and stop trying.

While love never fails or gives up, in this case, I had to let my feelings go and relinquish any claim to a true friendship. Should I hear from them again--and I have in the case of one person--I've simply smiled and nodded, acknowledging what once was. And expected nothing more.

Sometimes we need to ask ourselves a few questions:
Am I hanging onto a friendship that has changed?
Am I trying too hard to keep a friend who's clearly moved on (literally or figuratively)?
Have I been blind to the idea that this particular friendship may have been just for a season in my life?
Have I not seen the new possibilities for friendships right in front of me, because I've invested so much time in a lost cause?
Have I been clinging to a friendship for my own self-worth?

I'm sure we can all think of a friendship that's changed, and we need to accept that change. And I'm sure we can all open our eyes, and see the possibility of new friends immediately surrounding us. We all want to belong. We all want to be loved.

So long, the ones I've had to let go. And if you're reading this post and know me, you're probably NOT one of them.


Christine Lynxwiler said...

I love this post, even though it makes me sad. I think the online world is part of what causes this phenomenon to happen more often than it might have used to. I know that I have literally hundreds of online friends through ACFW and other groups and it's impossible to keep that many real life friendships fed and nourished. Especially when I count in my large family, my friends at church, and my own immediate family (hubby and kids.) I'm finally accepting that there are different levels of friendships. Some deep, some not shallow, yet not as deep. Out of my hundreds of online friends, there are maybe ten that I feel like even when months go without us talking I could call them if I needed to, or email them with a question. (yes, you're one of those for me. lol.) That goes against my nature because I want to be "best friends" with everyone I connect with. But it's just the truth. Of course sometimes, time and opportunity is a big factor in connecting with people. One of my friends in particular (Hi, Susan!) and I had been really excited about seeing each other this weekend at the CBE. Yet, as it turned out, I was so overwhelmed by the four signings and one meeting I had to do and with getting back and forth to them, plus trying to keep my kids entertained, that I didn't even get to sit down and talk to her for five minutes. So then comes the guilt. LOL. She seemed to understand. Hopefully she really did. :) Anyway, thanks again for a great post, Lynette!

Lynette Sowell said...

Hey, Chris! :) Thank you so much for posting that. I feel the same way. When I get to know someone, I really want a friendship to be meaningful, and I know it's impossible for that to happen with on line groups, and it's hard to maintain friendships at that level with very many people. I'm glad you think you can call on me! Every time we chat, even if it's been months, I feel like we pick right back up where we left off. Thanks, friend! :)