Life has a funny way of turning upside down on you, doesn’t it?
I went to high school, had plenty of friends, sat at the cool side of the lunch room and you would always find me seated right next to my best friend.
We were inseparable.
For years, I basically lived at her house. We did our hair the same, shared all the same clothes, went to the mall and ate way too many Cindy’s cinnamon rolls during those years.
I was constantly surrounded by “my people”.
The people who understood me, who would listen and soothe my brokenness, who would stay up all night talking about everything and anything.
Life was great. Best friends make life great.
Then one day, one by one, all of my people were gone.
I was alone.
Over the span of a few short years, one by one each dropped like flies.
Two went to a new church plant together.
One moved to another state.
Others simply stopped attending church.
But at least I still had my closest, dearest friend. Here we were years out of high school and we still had each other. We had babies together, helped plan each others weddings, we did all of life together. Throughout the hormone-fueled teenage girl cat fights, during the control freak stages, during the loss of grandparents and other friends here we were still together.
That made everything okay. Even if the friendship circle was dwindling due to friends leaving the faith, choosing a new church, marrying and moving away we were still best friends and life made sense.
You only need that one close friend to feel like you have that connection you crave.
But then that friendship abruptly ended.
Signals got crossed. Arguments and disagreements took over. Grace, forgiveness, and kindness were no longer a part of the equation. We no longer saw eye to eye on many different levels and it tore us apart.
Then one day I got the letter we all dread getting in my mailbox, “we can’t be friends anymore” she wrote.
Was she for real?
Surely she was having a tantrum and we’d get through it.
And then suddenly she was gone. Literally, gone. She left the church, she left her marriage and she walked right out of all our lives.
Talk about a turn of events. Thank you life.
My heart was so broken that I couldn’t even begin to put it into words. Sure I acted strong and brave on the outside about the whole thing. But inside I was devastated that the closest friend I’ve ever had was now no longer in my life, she was no longer a simple text away. Gone were the playdates, long phone calls, shopping trips and the lifetime of making memories together.
We can’t be friends anymore. Those words still sting to this day.
A girl just doesn’t recover from those words. We carry them around with us like baggage. Pressing replay every time a new lady walks into the church. Will she say we can’t be friends? Will she leave the faith too? Will I be left alone and friendless again?
“Probably, so don’t bother” says that small voice of fear inside of our heads. And so I don’t bother and you probably don’t either if you are in the same boat. We self-protect, we don’t want to feel that hurt from the loss and so we don’t try. Starting over in your late 20s, 30s or even 40s is probably more scary to us than it was when we were in high school. We’ve gained weight, we’ve grown some grays, our face has wrinkles and we’re too tired to stay up all night talking about boys. And now we have friendship baggage that hold us back.
I often ask myself what went wrong? Sure we didn’t see eye to eye on somethings but did it need to be the destruction of our entire friendship?
Then one day I received an email about the new book releasing by Lisa-Jo Baker, Never Unfriended, The Secret to Finding and Keeping Lasting Friendships.
Here I was on the cusp of turning 30 and I’ve found myself more lonely now than ever before, I find myself walking into the same church I’ve attended all of my life only to look around and barely know anyone. And those I do know, not really feeling like we are close friends. It’s sad but true. I missed my friends, I miss my people every Sunday morning. I miss scanning the crowd looking for them so we could just chat the entire awkward handshaking time away ignoring everyone else around us. We had each other and that was all that matter. Now I’m the last one there and I scan the room, my heart aches for my people.
So when I saw that email I knew I needed to get my hands on a copy. I needed it more now than I ever had before. Making friends was easy before, but after heartache, it’s not so much anymore.
What I didn’t know was just how much I needed this book.
Lisa-Jo is like the preacher who rips your face off with such convicting words while preaching at you but then ever so gently puts it back together making sense of it all.
Now I know what went wrong my bestie. While years ago, I full heartedly believed it was all her fault I no longer believe that now. In Never Unfriended I was faced with the stark reality of my half of the breakup. I need to control the relationships around me-it’s that simple. My bestie was changing and doing things I didn’t like, so I tried to change her. The more I tried the more she grew resentful. The more she wanted to change the more controlling I got. She disappointed me, I let her know it. Lisa-Jo teaches us that we can’t change our friends, they can’t be the source of fulfillment for our every need. Friends aren’t perfect and will change, annoy us, forget us, and hurt us. Only Jesus was meant to fill that perfect spot. When we put that kind of pressure on a friendship it is sure to implode. And implode it did.
While I am filled with regret, I can’t change how it all went down. I can’t fix it. We just need to look towards the future and learn from those mistakes.
So here I am at 30 learning how to make friends. Is it scary? You better believe it!! Will it be worth it? You betcha!
In the next part of Never Unfriended, you’re having your face sewn back on. Lisa-Jo teaches you how to be the kind of friend that you want in your own life. She teaches you how to be filled with grace, kindness, and love towards others. By going first, letting them be themselves and letting others see who you really are-with all the messy parts, the broken parts and even the scared parts.
We have to dare to go first. Don’t wait for someone to invite you over, you initiate. Be the friend you want. Reach outside of your comfort zone. Loving others more than you love yourself is when real friendships can bloom. It’s time to abandon the fear of being unfriended and put ourselves out there. Again and again for as long as it takes, because like I said-it only takes one special friend.
If you need encouragement in this area of friendship, grab yourself a copy of Never Unfriended. You won’t look at your friendship the same way after you’re done. There is one disclaimer, you won’t be able to put the book down!