Ever had a friendship that came to its natural end but you just couldn’t seem to move on? I’ve struggled with that recently because it’s hard to let go of someone with whom you once were so close. The things that once were cute or you didn’t notice are now hard to deal with, see, hear. And what if this friend is tied into a network of your friends or in a social group that you hang with and enjoy. What if it’s your tennis team or book club – do you just stop participating because you don’t want to be around that person anymore? It’s difficult and I find myself thinking about it, analyzing it, worrying about losing the network of friends developed over the course of years. How do you just let go and move on and why do that – can’t you just tolerate someone because you have this history? Shouldn’t you?
I’ve certainly gone through my share of close friends over the years because I’ve changed jobs, moved cross country, shifted my life view, etc. All of these changes in my life meant changes in the persons who were close to me with the exception of my immediate family. Of course we’ve heard the saying “to everything there is a season” and we can point to examples of that everywhere. But I’ve been frustrated with accepting that when it comes to friendships, partly because you hear about people who have been “best friends since the 3rd grade” or “the closest friends for 30 years.” I was starting to think there was something wrong with me because other than my mom and my sisters, I haven’t been best or closest friends for anyone for that long!
Instead of making myself out to be the bad guy (ok, girl), I am choosing to accept the reality that friendships come and go and it doesn’t make me any less of a person. And it doesn’t make the friend any less either, no matter who decided to “move on.” So how do you move on gracefully? Do you tell the person – I’m moving on? Do you let them know through your actions that you’re not interested in being close anymore? What do you say if they confront you? Surely you can’t tell them it’s their irritating voice or habit of complaining all the time or not listening to you or always thinking/talking about him/herself. And if you say you’ve evolved, now you’ve made them out to be stuck in a rut or something while you’re blossoming. Or you might talk about it incessantly with your spouse, other friends, family members and wear them out on the topic!
I think I’ll rely on part of the message I heard from Bishop Blake at West A on Sunday to relieve me of the guilt of wanting to move on from a friendship that is just not serving my needs anymore. The sermon was about components of a testimony (more on that in another post) and the ark of the covenant, also known as the ark of the testimony. Bishop Blake described the golden pot of manna that was placed in the ark and the fact that God provided manna to the Israelites in the desert to sustain them when they had no food. They could only collect manna for the day, however, not hoard it for days afterward. If they saved it overnight (except on the eve of the sabbath), it would breed worms and develop a nasty smell. Sometimes when you hold on to something that you’re supposed to let go, it spoils. Applying that to friendships, if you hold on to one that has clearly run its course, it does start to smell a bit and it starts to bother you and you may think about it more than other things that might be more important. That’s what I have been doing. I need to just let it go and move on. With grace, which for me means not harping on it internally or talking about it incessantly until I can’t talk about it anymore. I’m going to try that.