Letting Go Is Hard To Do

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(These grasses are gone now, but they were really pretty while they were here last summer.)

I'm tempted to break out in a verse of "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do", but I haven't had a friendship "break up" since elementary school.  Friendships don't usually end that way.  In my experience, it's always been more of a slow fade.

I used to be the type to try to stop this as soon as I saw it start.  I hate the thought of losing friends, drifting away from people, and I never wanted the fault to fall on me.  If I saw it fading, I'd make sure I did everything I could to let the person know I still wanted to be friends.  Sometimes the friendship died anyway, but it was never on my conscience.  I never wanted to look back and wonder if I should have tried harder.

In recent years I've changed my mind about this a little bit though.  Certainly there are a lot of friendships that are worth saving, or sometimes friendships just fade during certain life seasons only to come back later.  But over the years I've started to learn that there are some friendships that I'm better off letting go.  

This is really hard for me to do.  It goes against my nature.  I try really hard to be a good friend, and just letting someone go doesn't seem like it fits in with good friendship skills, but I've realized more and more that not everyone is like me.  Some people don't care about being a good friend.  Some people don't know how to be a good friend.  Maybe they are busy with their own lives, maybe they never had good friendship skills modeled for them.  Either way I've realized I can't be the only one who cares.

Recently I was struggling with this, wondering why certain friendships of mine over the years have ended or gone stale.  I would go over everything that happened toward the end, trying to figure out if I said something or did something that might have offended the person.  Wondering if I should have handled this or that better.  Wondering if it was me who had dropped the ball.

Then a couple weeks ago a dear friend wrote me a note, out of the blue, just thanking me for always being there for her, for loving her through the tough spots and not judging her (which is ironic, because I've thought the same thing about her actions toward me over the years).   It made me want to cry, because she couldn't even have known how much I needed to hear those words right then.  

Shortly after I randomly turned the radio to a Christian station, and a speaker was talking about letting go of toxic friendships.  The timing was interesting, and I somehow knew the Lord was trying to tell me something.

As I listened my eyes opened up, and I realized what kind of friends I really want.  I want friends like the one I have who wrote me that note.  I want friends who make me feel loved and accepted even with all my flaws.  Friends who I know will be there for me through the tough times, friends who will forgive me when I make stupid mistakes, friends who will overlook the little things.  Friends who not only love when I call or write to them, but who reciprocate and reach out to me too.  You may not have talked to them for months, but you can get together again and feel like nothing has changed.  

Those are the friends who stay.  Those are the friends who are worth keeping.  I have several friends like that - and what a blessing they are in my life!  To have multiple women in my life that are these kind of friends to me - how can I ask for anything more than that?  I am blessed.

On the other hand, friends that always make me wonder if I did something wrong, friends who don't call me back, friends who always seem to have an agenda, friends who are too busy (or just don't care enough) to make the effort to keep in touch - those friendships are exhausting.  They aren't edifying, they suck the energy right out of me.  They don't make me focus on God, they don't make me focus on things that are really important.  If anything the constant effort and drama that they require distracts me from my walk with the Lord and from the good relationships in my life. I think this second type of friendship qualifies as toxic, and these are not the kind of friendships I want.  They are the kind that need letting go.

The Lord showed me that sometimes it can be the right thing to do.  When I accepted that, it turned out that letting go wasn't as hard as I thought.
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Ginger said...

you have no idea how timely this post is for me as I've recently decided that a toxic relationship I've had for a while needs to end. Your words are comforting to me it's hard enough to be a good friend to a good friend, but it's 10 times harder to be a good friend to a bad friend. God is working on my heart through you today. Thank you!

Venessa said...

i LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. It is something I needed to hear as I am feeling like I need to let go of some things as well and invest more in friendship that I need in my life!

Kara @ Just1Step said...

I was just dwelling on some friendships this morning where I feel like the other person (it's actually people, in this case) just don't care at all and I can't figure out why. We used to have so much fun together, I really thought we had something, and now I feel worthless to them and can't figure out where it went wrong. So this post had very interesting timing for me. :)

This morning, while dwelling on this topic on the way to work, I was listening to some praise music. Suddenly the words came out clearer than ever before:
"Lay down my rights
Lay down my life
I will abandon
All of my pride
Focus my eyes
Away from myself
You become greater
I become less"
And all of a sudden I had this great clarity. That I needed to stop focusing on me (why don't they want to be friends, why don't they like me, what can I do to make them like me) and turn my eyes to God and focus on Him...and then once I'm focused on Him, everything becomes so much clearer (I don't NEED them in my life, I need GOD, and He would want me to kill them with kindness...with a happy, NOT manipulative heart...and not expect anything in return or rely on them for my sense of self-worth) and I felt SO much better.

My goal should be to make God happy and do what He would want me to do in every situation, and a HUGE part of that is loving others around me even when (and maybe especially when) I don't feel loved back.

That was a lot of rambling, but I hope it made sense a little. :)

Melanie said...

Great post Callie! I've learned the hard way over the years that some friendships I had should of been let go of much sooner..saving myself a lot of heartache. Older and wiser now!

Unknown said...

I have felt this way a lot over the past year as well. I think it has a lot to do with the seasons of life. I had so many friends who have used and abused me and over the years I have found myself. I have found my voice and instead of following the crowd, I began voicing my opinion. Some of it has to do with me being in a stage of life so contrary to theirs being that none of my close friends are yet married, or even close to it quite yet, where I am now married for over three years and have baby number 2 on the way. Some days are really hard realizing the little things about the friendships that I miss, but then I realize I wouldn't be able to be the person,wife and mother I need to if I spent my energy on those friends. Growing and changing brings on new people and if the old people develop in a way capable of being integrated with my life again one day, then that is fine with me.

Heather @ Simple Wives said...

I know this is an old post, but I remembered you writing this, so I had to find it in your archives. I'm going through a few things and have been pondering the Biblical approach to friendship issues. In this case, it's toxic and wearing me down. Even a few folks who know some of the issues have raised eyebrows and told me to run the other way. But, it's been YEARS of friendship. Like you said, letting go is hard to do.

Anyway, just wanted to say "thank you" for this post. I needed it today!

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