When We Let Friends Go

When We Let Friends Go

I spent this weekend wandering around a city where my good friend lives. I didn’t see him while I was there though. I actually haven’t spoken to him in a few years. We’ve lost touch and reaching out at this point would have felt strange. I was there for a music festival with another friend and as we drove, I remembered him, this friend I’ve lost touch with, and I wondered how he was. I wondered where his house was, or if I would run into him. I wondered if his family was ok and if he still looked the same. We drove to and from the festival, and I wondered how the people of our past can continue to be a part of us.

Even when we say we’ve lost touch, do we ever really lose touch? Don’t the people we meet, however briefly, affect us in a way that changes us, and we carry that change with us?

I always hated saying goodbye to new friends at the end of summer camp, and the end of the school year and at graduations and after mission trips. I wanted to keep an email chain going with everyone so that none of us ever had to say goodbye. We could all just keep in touch forever. Of course by now I’ve realized this is impossible. What usually happens is you make promises to keep in touch, you sign each other’s yearbooks and then make 3 or 4 phone calls, write a couple of emails, send an un-returned text, and it’s done. You sort of putter out. And this, I’ve come to realize, is ok.

Because not everyone you cross paths with is meant to be on your journey for the long haul. My friend from above was pivotal for me at the time I knew him. We learned from each other and did our best to keep in touch and then years later I can drive around his city and smile and not feel bad about not texting him to let him know I’m in town. We’re living our lives. We remember each other. It’s enough.

Then, there are friends who stick with you regardless of your pitiful keeping-in-touch efforts. I have a wonderful friend I talk to on the phone maybe twice a year. We’ve lived at least a couple of countries apart for most of our adult lives, yet neither of us feels like we’re puttering out. We know we are meant to be on each other’s journeys for the long haul even if that looks like an annual, rushed “I’m running through the airport, just wanted to say hey” kind of phone call.

Some relationships stick, while others, even with the greatest efforts, just don’t. I believe this is for a reason. I believe friendship should be as natural as possible. If you’re struggling with maintaining a relationship you know is doomed to putter out, don’t beat yourself up about it. If we continued every friendship we’ve ever made, we would live an impossibly exhausting social life. Gently let go of the ones who you know are fading away. And gently, with gratitude, hold onto those resilient ones.

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13 thoughts on “When We Let Friends Go

  1. I so enjoy your posts, Andrea…they always prompt thought (and often action!) in me. They especially make me want to know you better (like I do your Mom, Dad and Jenna!!) You think soundly, feel deeply & write both well. I’m grateful for you and your posts

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  2. This is such a very timely entry. As I have been wondering if I made a good not deliberate decision in just stepping back and live life without the friends I knew in High School and even gradeschool. Sometimes, when I see pictures of my former classmates/friends in Facebook, I wonder, is my decision in not showing up on reunions are really worth it. But now, I’ve realized, there are people who needs to stay at your past and there are people that needs to stay in the present. It is better that way I think.

    Thanks for this! :)

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  3. Thank you Andrea! This was such a timely post for me. I’ve been struggling with this very thing the last couple of days and really needed to hear what you had to say.

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  4. My friend sent this to me because I am going through a situation like this.. Mine situation included an argument though. We were friends for 1/2 our lives and now we haven’t talked in 2.5 years until this last week, we talked like we never stopped but after that night we haven’t talked since. I guess I am trying to hold onto a friendship that is meant to fizzle out even though it hurts. What you wrote really made me look at the situation from another perspective. Thank You for writing this and Thanks to my friend who knew this would help. ;)

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