When Friends Leave

I met with three new friends for coffee recently.  During our time together, one was talking and spilled coffee on the table and on her friend’s phone.  With the spilling of coffee came the spilling of tears. But her tears weren’t just about a potentially ruined (extremely expensive) phone.  They’re best friends, and little did I know, one is moving from North Carolina to Texas in a few weeks.

 WHEN FRIENDS LEAVE... TEARS MAKE THEIR WAY

I watched, listened and attempted to comfort my new friend with words, but as she sobbed I couldn’t help but think back to my college days.

We were inseparable after meeting that day in music theory.  So much in common, we went at the world united.  We sang together.  We studied together.  We prayed together.  This was a spiritually growing time for both of us.  She knew all my secrets, and I knew all her struggles.

When I changed my major to nursing, I also changed schools.  But we made it.  Our hearts stayed connected.  At my wedding she was maid of honor and sang the song she had written called Love Never Fails.

This time the miles between us were longer.  California was where my husband was from, so I went.

At first days would pass, then weeks, then months between times that we would talk.  I always thought there was just an understanding between us.  We each had busy lives, but our love for each other would never change.

EMOTIONALLY LEAVING CUTS DEEP 

And she did!  My world came crashing down the day she called to tell me she had been engaged for a couple of months.  I thought it was odd that she didn’t call me right away.  An engagement was too exciting to keep from one of your dearest friends.  (My thoughts anyway.)  She went on to tell me her plans for the wedding but that she wasn’t planning to invite me.  She didn’t “want me to have to spend the money.”  Not only was I not asked to be in her wedding, I wasn’t even welcome to be there.  What?

I asked for explanations.  Had I done or said something?  What in the world??  No real reasons were given.  She was done.  She was moving forward in her life and didn’t want me to be part of it.  End of story.

My so-called “best” friend decided to leave.  She checked out of our friendship completely.  I was left to wonder why.  We didn’t talk again after that.

When friends leave tears make their way.  And for months, even years, I cried every time I thought of it.  It was a desperately painful loss.  I grieved as if someone had died.  Our friendship had for sure!

 SATAN IS THE FATHER OF LIES

From then on Insecurity whispered lies, “It was all your fault.  If you hadn’t been so outspoken.  See, you should never have been so transparent.  You shouldn’t  share your heart.  You shouldn’t  love so deeply, it only leads to hurt.  You are incapable of having close friends.”

 Insecurity’s friend Rejection said, “No one’s ever going to love you again. Your friends are just going to get close, drain you, and leave.  You can’t trust people, especially women.  If you don’t let anyone get close, then it won’t hurt when they decide to leave.”

I fell for the lies. Some people choose to put up walls to protect themselves.  For me, the insecurity and fear of rejection caused me to try to control those closest, while keeping others at a safe distance.  I wanted my new closest friend all to myself.  For fear of loss and abandonment, I held on tight.  So tight it was toxic, but I was oblivious. She became as dependent on me, if not more, than I was of the relationship.  The friendship couldn’t survive the unhealthy codependency.  After all, it was worship of someone other than God, idolatry of sorts.  It began falling apart.

 FRIENDSHIP-LOVE  IS A CHOICE

What Satan meant for harm, God used for good.  He has more than restored what the locusts had devoured in my life.

friend with coffee

When we moved back to NC a few years ago, I began to pray for a healthy friend relationship.  God gave me a friend who helped me see the lies versus truth.  He used her to love me through the hurt and healing.  Any time Insecurity would raise its ugly head, she would gently speak truth over the situation.  I prayed specifically, and today I’m blessed with an abundance of healthy, Spirit-filled, God-ordained friendships (even ones I never see face to face).  My heart overflows with thankfulness.

 FORGIVENESS IS A MUST

As for my college friend, after 13 years had passed, we stood face to face.   Our daughters were at the same dance competition.  Years ago, I forgave her.  Forgiveness didn’t change the fact that I had been hurt.  I took responsibility for whatever my role may have been in our separation.  We don’t stay in touch, but I know I’ve done all I can do to make it right.  I genuinely love her and pray blessings over her life.

As for the longtime California friendship, we had grown apart for some time but had tried to keep the relationship intact.  We never could reach a completely healthy place.  We recently agreed to go our separate ways.  God protected my heart.  It hurt, of course.  The feeling of loss always does.  Because God knew I genuinely loved her, He gave me a dream with her in it, the same night we went our separate ways.  In the dream He showed me clearly that she would be okay.  I had peace after that.  I knew she was in the best hands possible… His!  A few weeks later I had another dream, He revealed that breaking ties was healthy in this situation. Because I trust Him, I severed all ties.  I pray God’s blessing and protection over her often.  I want nothing but the best for her and her family.

 KEYS TO SUCCESSFUL FRIENDSHIP

1)  No matter what’s happened in your past relationships, remember your security doesn’t depend on any earthly relationship.  It can only be found with Jesus.

2)  Don’t choose your own friends.  Pray and let God choose them for you.

3) Choose to love deeply!

4) Pray together.  Always remember to place God at the center.  Cultivate an atmosphere of spiritual growth.

5)  Forgive one another.

6)  Don’t set your friends up as idols.

 Have you ever had a friend leave?  Was it a physical leaving, or emotional?  Did you fall for any lies?  What was the result?  

19 thoughts on “When Friends Leave

  1. Carrie says:

    How did I end up here @ 1am? Hmmmmm…… I thought you were talking directly to me……..funny how that happens huh? 🙂

  2. Mary hempen says:

    I am so happy you were able to share this. I love the way you use your experiences for good…just as God intended!!!

  3. Jimmy Proulx says:

    I am glad to read that you did your part to try and reconcile the relationship. It is definitely hard when the other person does not want to participate in reconciling or rekindling the relationship. We are not given reasons why God allows some people to leave and some to stay in our lives but he always knows when to give you the right friend at the right time.

    1. Rivera Douthit says:

      Yes I agree. God allows what’s best, and gives us what we need at just the right time. He has used it to refine me in many ways. I can see that now. Thank you:)

  4. Mary says:

    When I was growing up, my Dad’s occupation required that we relocate nearly every year. Each time we prepared to move, I’d cry oceans of tears at the thought of having to leave my best friend. “Back in the day,” we’d write letters to each other – at first, one or more times a week – always expressing how much we missed each other. As time passed, each of us became involved in our new circles of friends and activities; and the letters would be spaced further and further apart, until there were none being exchanged. What I learned through all of this is that “there is a time for everything” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) and everyone that God puts in my path. Nothing lasts forever, save the goodness and grace of our Lord. I’ve learned to trust His plan and purposes, and to enjoy life and friendships “in the moment,” knowing that tomorrow God may lead one or both of us in new directions! On occasion, He even delights me in a reunion with a long lost friend…how glorious!

    The relationships that end for “no known reason” are much harder to handle. Like you, I’ve agonized over what went wrong… and not “whether”, but how I’d offended that person. I always assumed it was my fault. Why else would they leave me?? God was good enough to reunite me with a few of those friends, and I learned that the “shift” often had more to do with what was happening with them than what had happened between us. It certainly affected us, but the problems did not always originate between us. I’m sure you’ve learned, like I have, that the best thing to do is to pray. God knows what’s happening with every one of His children, and He is always the answer to whatever might break down between us. When there is something I need to “clean up” in my relationships, He will show me what it is and give me the courage and conviction to make amends. Sometimes those efforts are welcomed and accepted; sometimes they aren’t. If nothing is brought to my spirit regarding amends I need to make, He can help me to “just let it be okay” and trust Him for next steps. There is much that is out of my control, but I can always continue to pray!

    Rivera, I know something about the heart you have for Jesus, and I also know that God is using your life experiences – including, perhaps especially, the painful ones – to reach others and connect them with our Savior. Keep on “keeping on,” and may His love, grace and mercies be with you always!!

  5. Rebecca Carney - One Woman's Perspective says:

    It was extremely difficult for me after our son died when nearly everyone we knew – those we counted as close friends and extended family – left us alone. It was especially hard for me to watch our 17 year old daughter’s friends all disappear and leave her completely alone. I’m afraid it’s something I will never understand. Although I, too, previously had friends unexpectedly move on for reasons I didn’t understand, these losses were particularly hard to comprehend. I have worked very hard at forgiving…and I will continue to work at forgiving. I can’t say that I’m at the place of believing wholeheartedly in the concept of unconditional friendship; I don’t know if I ever will.

    1. Rivera Douthit says:

      Your story breaks my heart. It’s a sad reality in our world today that when people are uncomfortable, they run. They may not even realize what they’re doing. Rather than risk saying or doing the wrong thing, they do nothing at all. Thank you for sharing. I will be praying for healing and restoration for your broken heart.

  6. Denise Kelly says:

    Rivera, great blog! I know those hurt feelings too well…and just wanted to reach across the computer and hug you when I read them. When we love friends with our whole heart, some times we do get hurt. Thank God He restores us and reminds of our worth!

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