I've lived in the same city for over 2 decades, went to all the neighborhood schools, and grew up in a local church. So, I grew up with many of the same people and saw them as family. I dreamed about never leaving this place and never wanting our relationships to change.
Maybe you have friendships like that too. You love these people. You saw these friendships as the greatest good after knowing God. After all, they were the people who were with you when you were low, the people who made you laugh all the time. Many times, it felt like they knew you better than you knew myself.
But one day, some of these friendships drastically changed. Maybe it's painful to think about these friends over the holidays, especially since they were the friends that you used to spend Christmases with. It can be even more painful when you see them spending their holidays with new people.
The pain is real, but healing is possible.
Here are the 7 Christ-centered truths that have helped me to grow better, not bitter, from friendships that changed.
Friendships have seasons.
There are going to be times when you feel closer to someone, but insisting on always remaining close is not healthy. In fact, I have found that space allows for people to grow and mature. Separation is not always a bad thing! Jesus can help you to see the good in this time apart and to look forward, not to the past.
Nothing is wasted.
It's easy to look at a friendship that's changed and want to throw away all the past amazing memories that you've shared. That's a joy-drainer. The memories that you made together are precious. If you choose to abandon them, you are choosing to throw away parts of your life that are truly good. Even if that person has changed, you can still value them for the support they gave you when you did life together. You can still laugh about some of the crazy things that you did together! You wouldn't be who you are today without them. Instead of complaining about them, thank Jesus for that friendship. He allowed this person to be in your life (even if it was for a short season) to bring you joy and to care for you when things may have been hard. Even if the friendship's changed, Jesus can help you to see that nothing was wasted from that friendship.
Instagram is not a healthy way of "keeping in touch."
If you miss this person and haven't spoken to them in a long time, you might find it easier to look them up on Instagram instead of reaching out in person. Take my advice: Stay away from the 'gram if you're not on good terms. It's really easy to try to 'size up' this friend on Instagram and become judgmental/resentful. It can be easy to make false assumptions about this friend i.e. "wow they've moved on to so much cooler people..I can't believe they've already forgotten all about me." This friend might actually be thinking about you too, but you'll never know that from just looking them up on IG. Wait for the right time and reach out to them personally instead.
Drop the friendship competitions.
This might be more common among girls than guys, but sometimes it's real easy to try to take revenge by hanging out with new people and posting it everywhere so that the friend who dropped you can feel the 'sting' of you moving on too. Stop. This doesn't work. In the end, the most unhappy person is still yourself. Instead, take the opportunity to befriend new people God brings into your life because you want to be a blessing to them, not because you're using them to make someone else jealous.
If they're a true friend, they'll come back to you.
My grandmother has this saying: If it's meant to be yours, it'll be yours. This helped me to hold my closest friendships with an open hand. This is easier said than done, but it's true. The people who are really supposed to be in your life won't give up on the friendship. So don't give up on them either! Take your time to pray. This is the prayer that brought me much peace: Lord, help me to not be anxious about losing the people I love. Help me to trust that You will keep the people who are meant to be in my life, in my life.
Friendships are a true test of unconditional love.
I used to say I wanted to experience the deepest kind of friendships. I didn't know this meant my friendships would be tested. Even though I initially hated the seasons of change and just wished things could go back to the way they were, I realized that as I continued to involve Jesus in my healing/forgiveness process, my love for them was becoming more true. Before, I loved them because they met my emotional needs. Now, I love them because I realize that Christ first loved me. If He loves me so much, then He'll give me the strength to value and cherish friendships that have wounded me. And I trust He'll give those I've wounded in the past the strength to forgive me too.
Friendships do change, but Jesus never does.
My rude awakening came last year when I realized that I had disappointed my friends, and they had disappointed me too. It was hard to accept that, especially since I took great pride in my friendships and thought that as long as I tried my best, things would always be great and nothing would change. This was wrong. I realize now that I idolized friendships, and the reason why I was so afraid of losing friends was because I found so much affirmation from how much they valued me, and how much I was worth to them. This was never Jesus' plan for my life. He created friendships to be a blessing, not something for us to revolve our lives around. When my life revolved around my friendships, I forgot that I had an even greater friend, Jesus, who has promised to never leave me or forsake me. In fact, He choses me even when no one else wants me, when no one else finds me worthwhile. That friendship is one that will never change and one I can always take refuge in.