We’ve all experienced it…
We made a friend, got close to them and shared our hearts and lives, only to months or years later to look back and feel like we’ve lost them.
For many of us, that perspective is filled with pain. We hurt in the loss. It’s hard to open up to someone, and it’s even harder to feel like you’ve lost that connection after being vulnerable and loving someone.
The truth is we don’t have to hurt because there are often practical reasons why they are not your friends anymore. Here are just a few…
#1 – You’re living in a different season of life.
Our lives journey through seasons. Each season is equipped with its own unique set of challenges and rewards.
In every season, we’ll connect with people who are also in that season.
When you’re parenting young kids, it’s easy to connect to parents who have kids in the same stage. When you have teenagers, the same is true. When you’re single, it’s easier to connect with single friends than married friends.
It’s not just relationship dynamics that present connection. When we’re experiencing tragic loss, we’ll connect with people who have experienced a similar loss. When we’re starting a business, we’ll connect with others that are venturing into the same waters.
The thing about seasons is that they change.
Often when seasons change in our lives, the people we do life with changes too. This is a natural reflection of the relational needs represented by the challenges of the new season.
Often what helped you navigate the last season of life will be ineffective to help you navigate the next season of life.
Many of us are guilty of trying to invite someone from a former season of life into our current season when God intended that relationship to be close and intimate only for a season. Not every relationship is life-long, and that’s ok. We can be thankful for those who walk with us in each season of life.
#2 – You have changed contexts.
Every relationship has a context.
I’ve heard a lot of people in church complain about their old Pastors: “They never contact me anymore. I used to hear from them all the time.”
As a Pastor, I’m familiar with this tension because it’s the world I live in.
The reason you haven’t heard from your old Pastor is that you’ve changed contexts. You have a new Pastor. You have a new church home. That new context is what sets the platform for your new relationships.
This is true for every change in context. Moving from neighborhood to neighborhood or city to city, changing jobs, switching gyms, and even changing which restaurants that we frequent change our context.
Here’s one very hard thing for most of us to accept: It’s rare for a relationship to outlast a change in context.
Most people are good at sustaining a relationship with those they have context with.
If you’ve graduated from high school you’ve experienced this. We spend years of our lives in context with hundreds of people whom who we know and are deeply involved in their lives. Then one magical day we graduate and all of sudden that context is taken away. We see a minimal percentage of those friends again. We stay in touch with on a few. Why? It’s simple: the context for the relationship was taken away.
Here’s the hard truth: Most people are not good at sustaining a relationship when the context changes.
When you notice that a relationship has survived a change in context, it’s probably something special and worth the time and investment to keep it going.
#3 – You did something wrong.
Let’s be honest: We’ve all blown it.
You’ve betrayed someone’s trust. You’ve lied to a friend. You’ve gotten angry and said something you regret. You manipulated a situation for your good and not for the good of everyone.
We’ve all sinned. That puts us into the same boat.
But… we have to be honest that our sin has the potential to destroy a relationship.
This is the point where we talk about forgiveness and grace, right?
Because as believers we know that the forgiveness Jesus has given changes everything. We can forgive freely because has forgiven us freely.
But… this is a blog about relationships lost.
Too often when we blow it as Christians we think we deserve grace. We’ve given it to others. We know it’s free from Jesus.
It’s not grace if you deserve it.
That means that sometimes you’re going to hurt someone, and they’re going to choose to end the relationship. They don’t have to forgive you (even though they should, for their own sake). They don’t have to give you grace.
Accept responsibility for your sin. Confess it to God. And if given the opportunity, ask the person you’ve hurt for forgiveness.
You may not see the relationship restored, but you can live free from bitterness and hurt from the loss.
In the end…
In the end, it’s hard for friendships to outlast seasons, overcome a change in context, and not be overwhelmed by the hurtful and sinful things we’ve done.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We can choose to be thankful for those who walked with us and loved us through different seasons and in each context. We can hold the relationships with an open hand, knowing that they belong to God and trust Him with their longevity in our lives.
In one of my next few blogs I’m going to share a reflection on the life-long friends I’ve had next and a few key pointers in how to sustain friends through seasons, changes in context, and even how to overcome our sin.
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How did this blog help you process the loss of a friend?