Losing friends hurts.
Sometimes I think that if all the energy we pour into avoiding that fact were spent elsewhere, we’d have cured world hunger by now.
The memes clutter our feeds.
“We never lose real friends, only fake ones.”
“Those who can’t handle your worst, don’t deserve your best.”
“Be yourself and the right people will gravitate towards you.”
“If they didn’t stay, they were never meant to.”
And today I found myself wondering…Who are we trying to convince?
Over the years, I’ve lost friends. I’ve lost them because someone moved. I’ve lost them because they got “too busy to call”. I’ve lost them because they married. I’ve lost them because they got married and wanted to stay friends but were female, and it was no longer appropriate. I’ve lost them because they forsook God and all the awkwardness that causes in the coffeeshop (I should have fought harder for those). I’ve lost friends simply because one of us changed, or revealed their darker side, and the other decided they didn’t like what they saw.
I’m no special case. Life winnows things away, and friends are no exception. It’s left me with a small but committed group of close friends I know I can count on, no matter how many the miles and misunderstandings. We’re in it for the long haul. I want to hurl myself into a lake with joy when I think of those people.
And sure, some people are best left in the past.
…it still hurts. Imperfection doesn’t need to doom friendship. How many of my old friendships could have been fought for, were we wiser back then?
It all affects my current friendships. I find myself worrying about them moving, or being disgusted at some new weakness they see. Just like the old ones. It all feels…tenuous. The past resurfacing to threaten the present, at least in my mind.
So yeah…lost friendships matter.
Maybe it’s time we just admitted it. Admitted that we all deserved better, that they should have fought harder (or we should have), that even fairweather friends can sting on their way out. And that some of them were better than we remember.
“Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” (Ephesians 4:26-27)
Enough suns have gone down on my lost friendships to account for a galaxy. The foothold is there; we call it “bitterness”. Sour grapes fill no one.
“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:15)
I want to see God as gentle. But rationalizing away all his sober warnings is…too convenient. God is outside us; he’s bigger than us; he’s his own person, independent of the constructs of our mind. He’s allowed to be stern if need be. Perhaps we would be wise to heed him.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners” (Isaiah 61:1)
Wow. God isn’t falling back on “everything happens for a reason” here. He’s agreeing that our heart can be broken, and that it matters to him. God wants to heal us of painful things. There are stingers everywhere in this wilderness, and betrayal is among them. If it mattered to us, it matters to him.
But it can’t happen until we forgive, and it can’t happen until we mourn. Any counselor can tell you a wound unacknowledged is a wound unhealed. God, the Wonderful Counselor, offers his couch.
Now the best part…
“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)
This verse finds its ultimate expression in God himself. God is that friend. He created you, knows you better than anyone, and won’t leave those who follow him. To do so would be faithlessness, a contradiction of his perfect character.
One benefit of God’s enormity and vastness is that he is capable finding anyone worthy of friendship. You needn’t worry that you’re too boring, broken, or undeserving. Your sins can be taken away by the blood of Christ, if you accept. You are free to find a friend in him.
He’s no imaginary friend; you cannot make him up. Cultivating friendship with the unseen God requires work, and requires obedience.
But it is worth it. Oh, so worth it. I’m only just beginning to discover how.