When it comes to people, I am a pack rat. I want everyone to come. Every season of my life, I make room for anyone connected to me to come along for the journey. It took becoming an adult and facing a heartbreak in friendship to realize that every season of my life is not for everyone I happen to know.
For five years after the heartbreak, I was processing the loss of a friendship that had spanned six years of deep sisterhood and decades of acquaintance. As soon as I thought I was over it, I would run into the former friend and my heart would break all over again. Every milestone in either of our lives felt like something was missing because I could not celebrate it as I would if we were still the sisters we once were. I blamed myself for five years, wondering how I could have been stupid enough to jeopardize such a sacred connection. I fought back resentment in my heart because it seemed I was the only one mourning the loss of our connection.
Losing that one friend (and the friends connected to her who chose sides) gave me a burden for sisterhood done right. I cried, prayed and lamented for God to send me sisters who would see me, accept me, love me, correct me and hold me up, spiritually. And let me tell you what, God outdid Himself in the answer to my prayers. As I encountered and grew in relationship with new friends, the Holy Spirit would open my eyes to which part of one another’s purpose we were meant to support. I had friends who sharpened me or whom I would sharpen. I had friends who challenged me and friends who needed my perspective to open up their own once-limited worldview. I had friends whose convictions mirrored mine and friends whose preferences were worlds away from mine. But somehow, I had exactly what I needed in each sister that came into my life.
Over the last four years of writing my latest book, I went through a transformation that changed me physically, emotionally, spiritually and even financially. When I hosted the first live book-reading event in honor of this latest work, there was a moment of reverential awe and dawning for me. In the room were twenty-five women who had supported, encouraged, witnessed or directly impacted the transformation that gave birth to my book. These women loved me deeply, supported me unconditionally and had traveled across hundreds of miles from varying states to be present at my moment of celebration. God blessed me beyond anything I could have asked, think or imagined when it came to sisterhood.
The women in my life are perfectly suited to God’s purpose and plans for me as a daughter who speaks truth to power, an unapologetic encourager of others and a transparent story-teller. My previous friendships fell apart because I had written transparently from a desire to share my own journey to encourage others. My words were the sword that severed a cherished sisterhood. But eight years later, my words and my book were the cord that God was using to bind me together in love and covenant friendship with women who “got” me. The same storytelling and truth-speaking that killed one sisterhood gave birth to dozens of others that God has used to heal and grow me over the last eight years.
I had been so anxious to keep friends that I completely missed the fact that the connections I cherished were not necessarily compatible with the growth I desired. Had I insisted on keeping the friendships that have now faded, I would be constantly stuffing down my desire to speak (and write) the truth about my life and journey with God. My desire to not offend and to be accepted by friends whose outlook on life differed so fundamentally from mine would not have allowed me the freedom to do what I do today. In all honesty, if I had the same friends I did eight years ago, my journey would look every different than it does right now.
One of the reigning themes in my journey with the Lord is the continuing deliverance He is working in my life to rid me of the fear of man. A part of me honestly believes that without God severing the ties from my past friendships, I will be living with just a teeny-tiny bit of idolatry in regards to those friends. A part of me knew without asking that my friendship with these previous sisters was very much conditional on my good behavior. So, I did my best to not disappoint them. I guess deep down, I knew that if I did something that was deemed wrong enough, I was the disposable portion of our friendship. So, I always did my best not to ruffle any feathers. Now, imagine trying to obey God unapologetically while being genuinely afraid of offending others? At some point, obedience to God and the offense of man will butt heads, and one will have to bow.
“We ought to obey God rather than men.”Acts 5: 29 NKJV
I struggled for years with the thought that perhaps I had sinned in some way by letting these friendships go. They died a violent death that felt very much like my fault but no matter how much I apologized and what olive branches I extended, we just could not seem to find our way back to what we had prior. It took me years to make peace with the fact that these connections came to a necessary end; and an even longer period of time before I could stop blaming myself for the connections that did not survive this new season of my life. The friends who saw me through singleness seemed like they should also be there to witness my life as a wife and mother. I am just now making peace with the truth that every season of my life is not for every person in my life to access.
I am deeply grateful to God for the friendships that have spanned twenty years, fifteen years, ten years and even those that are only months old but have grown deep and godly roots and bear fruit that pleases God. Every person that has invested in me in this season of my life is a gift from God. But I am learning to be okay with the fact that some friendships that fed me in past seasons may not be appropriate for this one. It is not a sin to allow seasons to end or change. I am learning to honor what fed me in the last season without cursing it for being unavailable in next season. God will always provide.
If you are in a difficult season with any friend, I encourage you to seek peace with all men. Reconciliation is the heart of our Father. But, if God has shown you that a season of friendship is transitioning or coming to an end, embrace the change – painful as it may be. If it is God’s will for your season with certain connections to be over, He will not leave you empty. He will make provision for you to have life-giving, godly and abiding friendships to go with you in this new season. Outgrowing friends is not a sin. It happens. Lean into what God is doing. Keep your heart free of resentment or anger. Seek peace whenever possible. Pray for your friends, both former and current. And keep your heart tender towards the instructions of God. He is too good to fail.