An Honest Goodbye
When we were kids it was so much easier. It's different now. Difficult even, and rare. Over the past several months, in one way or another, this topic of friendships, and relationships keeps reoccurring. It's revisited for different reasons, but conflict, loneliness, good times, and hurt, seem to be among the most popular. It has caused some reflection on my part.
I've met some amazing people. Some of them were very close to me... for a time. I remember going through a particularly rough patch with one of them, about five years ago. It literally seemed like, one day we were best buddies, and the next day, nothing. I couldn't understand how they could exit our lives, without even a goodbye. I recall thinking, "How could you?" I wanted an explanation, and closure. I remember my husband being incredibly at ease with the whole thing. All the while, I was angry. Very angry. I'm careful with the people I allow access to my kids. This person had made the short list. Without warning, or a given reason, they were gone. It was hard to explain this to our, then six year old. I couldn't even explain it to myself. In an attempt to make sense of what happened, I began to redefine that relationship through new eyes. The ones that witnessed how the situation hurt my child, and me. This new definition was not a kind one. It labelled my ex-friend, selfish, and someone who never really loved my family. Then it hit me; I was wrong. Very wrong. It's not fair to view an entire relationship through the lens of the destruction caused at the break up. It was easier on the heart, to believe that this person was "never really a friend" or possessed unfavorable characteristics all along; however that was not the truth. At one point we were friends. Close friends. For reasons all their own, we are no longer close friends. We aren't even friendly. It was their right to make that choice. They're not a bad person for making it. I struggled to come to terms with that, but the best thing that could have happened, did. I emerged from the ruins of that relationship stronger, and I made peace with this truth: People will hurt you. It's inevitable. When they do, don't let anger, or pain dictate how you view them, or determine your response to them. If you loved them, and they loved you, let that be the memory you take with you. Don't create new memories, or view old ones based on current bitterness. Seems simple enough, it's hard to do.
Since that relationship ended, I've seen the demise of a few others. They all ended for various reasons, distance, time, maturity, whatever. With each one, I've been able to celebrate the history we shared. I can thank God for allowing them in my life, pray for them, and move on . There is no animosity, just reality. The reality is, not everyone was meant to remain in your life. Some people will leave you, some of them, you'll leave. It doesn't have to be a bad thing. It can be a growth thing. I recently wrote this to a friend:
When God's doing a new thing, God's doing a new thing. It's been my experience, that He's more into new construction, than remodeling the old. Sometimes we put so much energy, trying to merge old directions with new ones, that we spend our time not going anywhere. Never moving forward, not really moving back. Stuck. If what you have invested in, and built is meaningful, it will last. If not, it was meant to last only for a season. If you find that, that season is over, thank God for the temporary comforts/ blessings of those relationships. Pray for those people, but move on. Time is much too valuable to spend it re-camped in the past. Treasure the memories, but embrace your future, and the new thing God is doing with reckless abandon.
This is my message to myself when I reminisce on pain in past, or current relationships. People aren't perfect. They are just people. Fallible. You can't control their action, or reactions, but you can control yours. It's a great place to apply the "golden rule" Luke:6:31. "Do unto others, as you would them do to you." It's so easy to get caught up the pride of, "but they're wrong, or "how dare they do that to me", or "forget them." I've even heard people say, "they're dead to me." That's so unlike love. If you once shared a relationship with someone, (stating the obvious) on some level you related to that person. You saw qualities that you valued. You were friends with them for a reason. It's so dishonest, and so like bitterness to revise the history, and not honor those reasons. I don't believe that people are to be discarded, but should it occur, then the good things you shared, and the lessons you learned from those relationships, should never be discarded.
It's easy to develop callouses on the heart from pain. Maybe it's some kind of protection mode or something. We adults are so good at hardening our hearts, and carrying around our baggage. I just think it's time to lay them down. Be a kid again, and make friends despite the hurt. Open up. Risk more. Be you. Sure, it's hard, but it's worth it. You may not find a ton of friends this way, but better to be disliked for who you really are, than loved for being someone you're not. And the friends you make are more likely to be the "real deal."
That's been my charge. I've been appreciating the people in my tiny circle, and giving them the full "Shanda experience." I'm sure that's scary for them. It's scary for me too, but I want to make sure that the people that know me, and love me, KNOW me and love ME. And if for any reason we have to say goodbye, it will be an honest one. No bitterness. No baggage, just memories. Beautiful. Honest. Memories.