I hate losing friends.
I mean this in the physical sense, such as people passing away; but also in the “we’ve grown apart, we’re not going in the same direction, we can’t grow/go together” type of way.
I’m almost 30, so you’d think that by now I’d be accustomed to the fact that friendships change. However, being accustomed to something doesn’t make it any easier when it happens. And if you’re someone like me, who can tend to be a loner and not give the title of “friend” to many people, it’s that much more difficult when you lose one.
I’ve written about this experience of the changing dynamics of friends before, asking, “What Happens When You Outgrown Your Friends?” and how we can “Understand Where We Fit“. Yet, I still have to admit that losing a friend is a difficult experience.
As I reflect on this, the BEST way I can imagine it, and rationalize it to myself is thinking about friendships like a pair of shoes. Not just ANY pair of shoes, but THAT pair of shoes. You get them, you LOVE them, you wear them ALL the time. They never let you down. They go with all of your outfits, they never make your feet hurt; whether you wear them all day or just for a few hours.
But then there’s a point where something changes. Maybe it’s your style; and the shoes that once complimented every outfit, now only compliment a few. Maybe you’re growing, and so what used to be comfortable isn’t a great fit anymore. You know, it’s good for a few hours, but anything longer than that can be extremely difficult to manage. Maybe, you get a new pair that now replace that previous pair. Maybe you lack the closet space necessary to keep them. Whatever it is, something changes. You can’t always pinpoint the moment that it happens, but you understand that something is different.
Yet even with this recognition, you hold on to the shoes. I mean, who just throws away a great pair of shoes that have been so faithful? But it’s not just the faithfulness that keeps you holding it, it’s the memories. It’s the moments you had in those shoes that changed your life, that made you the person that you are now. How can you stand to part with something so beautiful…even if you know that you no longer have space for it, even if you know that it doesn’t fit anymore, even if you know that you have a new pair?
It’s a challenge. It’s a process of reconciling what you want with what you need. It’s a process that requires you to be honest with yourself. I’ve recognized that when I try to hold on to things that I no longer have space for or that I no longer need to have, I’m preventing God from blessing me with what I need, deserve, and what He wants for me to have. And since his thoughts and ways are higher than mine, I have to trust that after removal will always come replacement- for the better.
I’ve also recognized that when I continuously try to place myself in something that doesn’t fit, I stifle my growth. If I’m ever going to be where God wants me to be, I have to acknowledge that I won’t always be comfortable, and I might have to be in isolation. I have to allow God to prune me to grow me.
It’s not an easy process, but it’s one that is a part of life. And it’s necessary that I take the time to mourn these friendships, allow myself to be comforted; and move on. It’s equally necessary that I take the time to be appreciative for those friendships that are still present, being grateful for those that God has placed in my life.
I am a firm believer in Romans 8:28, which states, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”, so even what seems to be a loss will turn out as a win. So, as I mourn the loss of friends, I am equally comforted by this, knowing that “weeping may endure for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
There’s a MORNING for your MOURNING. Be encouraged, friends!