On a long enough timeline, change in anything is inevitable. We grow, we adapt, and we make decisions that push us closer to or further from any given thing. Naturally, our relationships with those around us change because of this.Throughout the course of our lives, there are friends we meet, friends we make, friends we give up, and friends we lose. And over the past four years in particular, I’ve given up and I’ve lost more friends than I really care to count.
Not all of that is intentional, of course. Friends graduate, leave town for job offers, start families, etc. They grow, change, and move on, and all of that is natural. But very few friendships break off and end without leaving something behind- a residual chunk of memories, feelings, and shared experience that we carry with us forward into the rest of our lives. More often than not, they’re good memories, good feelings, and experiences that help mold us into the people we become (hopefully good people). But occasionally, I find that when a friendship ends unexpectedly, abruptly, or before its time, it takes a piece of me with it filled with hopes, expectations, and investment that was never fully seen through in that friendship.
I spoke last year to my church about the incredibly freeing reality of the Gospel that we can give up our inward questions of identity (Who am I? What am I here for? Do I matter? Am I loved?) because our identity is permanently sealed in Christ who chose us, made us adopted sons and daughters of God, immeasurably important, and irrevocably loved. I talked about how liberating it was to cast off the weight of my own selfish questions and insecurities and recognize that I have been made new, and the only weight of my new identity is the weight of responsibility that I bear to spread the message of the gospel to others and show them the same love and compassion that God shows for us every day.
It’s when these friendships end too soon that I feel that weight of responsibility, and my heart sinks to know that I may not have done everything I can for a person whom I may never see or speak to again.
I fully believe that every person is capable of greatness. I don’t believe that anyone is broken beyond repair or that any person is unworthy of happiness and a full, rich life. All of us were dreamed up, imagined, uniquely designed, planned, and written into a story entirely our own by a God who loves us individually, specifically, and intentionally, more than anything else in all of creation. That’s the way that I see everyone, and I try to do my best to show that to them, through my eyes, and let them know that they are valuable and treasured individuals with a worthwhile purpose, capable of a wonderful life.
Not everyone sees it. Some people never will. I’ve had friends whom I’ve loved for a host of reasons that I couldn’t fully articulate even if you gave me a dictionary, a thesaurus, and a poet to help me craft the words. Sometimes someone just doesn’t understand why you care. It just doesn’t register. And because they don’t understand the why, they don’t accept it. And when those people leave your life never understanding that they are cared for, valued, and important, it might just break your heart when you think about it.
Friends who struggle with depression and loneliness. Friends who have attempted suicide. Friends who are in therapy, counseling, rehabilitation. Friends who see little to no worth in themselves or the life they live. Friends paralyzed by fear, not knowing what to do or where to go with their lives.
Some of my friends whom this is for, either via facebook or twitter, may read this. And to those of you whom this is for, I want to let you know that I wonder sometimes if you think of me the way that I think of you. I wonder if you think back and remember me, and our conversations, and you wonder how I’m doing. What I’m up to. If you wonder what I think about myself on any given day. Those are the things I wonder about you. I wonder if you’re doing okay. I wonder if you’ve found direction and purpose in your life, and if you’ve found a meaning for it all. I wonder if you’ve come to know how amazing you are and how much you’ve touched the lives of those around you, even just in the short time that we knew each other.
I want you to know that sometimes I find myself awake at night thinking about you. I want you to know that I pray for you. I want you to know that you are important, you are valuable, and you are loved. I want you to know that whatever you’re going through, you can do it. You are capable of greatness- a champion waiting to be proven. I just hope that someday you can see yourself the way that I see you, and you can finally understand.
Lastly, if we’ve drifted apart either accidentally or unavoidably, I encourage you to reach out. Let’s talk. I miss our friendship and I’d be so glad to reconnect with you. I care about you more than you realize, and I’d love to hear how you’re doing. No matter what, I wish you the best.