I do believe the words Twist and Shout make for a great musical backdrop for friendship. Paradox seems to lurk around every corner, particularly in my relationships. Has this happened to you?
You meet someone, like that person immediately, strike up a friendship, go deep, and then everything falls apart? There was a time we were such good friends with folks that we considered willing our children to them. Now? No relationship at all. There have been people who have deeply influenced my books who I wouldn’t call up for a kindly chat. Those who once cheered, now seem distant and indifferent.
How does this happen?
I don’t like it.
Here are some possible reasons:
- When you entered the friendship, the rush of a new friend blinded you to the dark sides. As the friendship progressed, the fissures opened up. The depth of the friendship is then tested. If it’s not terribly deep, you will not be able to overcome those dark elements. (And don’t forget that we all have dark elements, and sometimes our friends can’t abide by our own issues.)
- People purposefully hard their dark sides for a long time, and then they act accordingly in a shocking way that seems out of character. Usually this ends with a quick severing of the relationship.
- Sometimes it’s just plain life. I’ve had many friends ebb away (as I have too) through moving far away. It’s hard to maintain close relationships over the miles. One bonus of moving: you find out which friendships are meant to last your lifetime. The great ones stay, stay, stay no matter how much you move, move, move.
- Perspective: Some friends simply have an opposite perspective on a situation or the way you handled it. If the friend is convinced, there’s really no way to reason your way around. One of the most painful moments for me came when a friend of ours chose to believe the worst about us. Nothing we did or said changed his opinion. And the more we tried, the more we somehow cemented his opinion. (If someone has convinced himself about you, there’s really no way out unless Jesus helps that person see. If you defend yourself, it only makes you look guilty. This is one of those blessedly hard times when you entrust your reputation to His care. It’s hard to do for a people-pleaser like me, but I’ve found tremendous rest and joy when I’ve relinquished my need to defend to Jesus.)
- Some people are simply enemies disguised in friend clothing. This is extremely rare, of course, but discovering the wolf underneath the sheep gear is a devastating experience.
I’ll end this by saying I’m very thankful for the relationships God places in my life. It’s taken me a long time to thank Him for the friends who go by the wayside. But I’m learning. Those folks taught me valuable lessons, probably not even knowing they were doing it. I’ve learned discernment. I’ve learned to be cautious about pursuit. I’ve learned to entrust my heart and reputation to Jesus. I’ve thanked God for those folks who have felt like thorns (2 Corinthians 12: 9,10) because they help me see my many weaknesses and keep me looking for His strength to fill me up and hedge me away from pride.
It’s hard to see friendships wane or recoil or hurt. I’m one of those who likes to cling no matter what. But I’m learning, step by step, to move on, to shake the dust off my feet, and trust Jesus for new friends, new adventures.