Monday, March 7, 2011

It's a Friend Thing

Sometimes you just have to unfriend a friend. In a world where Facebook posts, Twitter feeds, and text messages keep you connected to those you love who live both near and far, it would seem a shame to lose contact with someone. After all, isn't that what these mediums were created to do - draw us closer together? Isn't there a slogan for a phone or app of some kind that says something like "bringing your world closer?"

I realize that friendships aren't static. They are ever-changing with the tides of time. Some friends slip into our memories; some ebb and flow like the sea; and some are like sand...always seen but not always the same. We invest time and energy into friendships. They need that to nurture them and keep them going. All relationships are like that. We mourn the loss of a good friend or wallow in our dislike if a friendship ends poorly. We move and change and new friends come into our lives. If we're lucky, those new friends have us yearning for endless years just to stay friends forever.

Sadly, there comes a time when through no fault on either side that a friendship has to end and one person has to choose if they will end it or not. To not may leave it sour and festering in the soul. To see the newsfeeds of all the things happening in their lives may make one sad and feeling disparate. To end it will leave a scar that may never completely disappear, but over time it will fade. New friends will heal the hurt; old and dear friends will soothe the heart.

And so it is that for the first time in my life I had to choose to unfriend. Me - the one person I know who can never have too many friends. I had held on for so long, knowing that I needed to let go but unwilling to admit that the friendship had nowhere to go. I looked on with envy and anger as the rosy posts kept flowing in about how great their life was, how great their family was, how awesome their trip was. I was hurt at the signs that appeared to me as though God has suddenly remembered them but had utterly forgotten me. Is seems selfish of me, right?

But you don't understand the story behind how they came to extol about their great life. There was a time when their life was filled with sadness and despair. Sin had darkened their souls and was slowly taking the very life from them. They reached out to me and I spent a great deal of time, energy, love and compassion to help keep them from going under. I was told many times I was their only true friend who would never judge. It was my duty as a friend and I was happy to do it. I always live by the moral that you treat others like you would want to be treated expecting nothing in return but knowing good begets good. Only no good was returned. My dark days appeared and I reached out to my friends. Many friends came to my side. Many new friends made themselves known. But a select few - my dearest few or so I thought - that I had invested so much time in were not to be found. Oh I received the occasional text or phone call, but only in response to mine. They were too busy living their great lives to come see me or take time just to call and chat. I don't doubt they were thinking about me, but when it came time to give back, they just wouldn't. And now, right now, I don't have the endless capacity to give and not get back. I want to expend what energy I have on those who will invest in me as I invest in them.

Friendship and love and compassion are not a one-way street. It takes giving and taking. The sands of the shoreline would not exist without the waves continually giving and taking. It will take time for the space to heal, but the ocean will ebb and flow and my sands of life will once again be smooth and clean.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written, Jean. I know that I have been guilty of not being there for a couple of my friends during their time of need. While being "so busy" is a commonly uttered phrase for me, I think the main reason was simply not knowing what to do or say to someone who was going through a difficult time, like struggling with cancer, for example. Do I ask questions, or is that too nosy? Do I bring a meal, when I know they've been brought so many by others? Do I visit? Do I call? I always tell the person (and 100% mean it), "Please let me know what I can do for you," but I've never been taken up on my offer. Perhaps in a future column, you could tell us what meant the most to you during your difficult time, what you needed more of, what you could have used without. It could prove useful to some of us in the future. Keep on being simply you. :)