Ginny and I were an unlikely pair — the elementary-school version of Laverne and Shirley. I was quiet, guarded, and careful not to scuff my shoes or put a hole in my white tights. Ginny laughed loudly, spoke out of turn, and somehow convinced me to tie a rope around my waist and swing from the ceiling of an old barn.
We said we’d be friends forever. Grownups told us our friendship wouldn’t last that long.
They were right.
Ginny and I met on the first day of first grade and remained best friends until the last day of seventh. For most of those six years, our personality differences didn’t matter much to us. We both loved Jesus, ‘80s pop culture, and daydreaming about boys. We filled millions of minutes with giggles, fashion fiascoes, excursions through cemeteries and forests alike, and conversations ranging from Cyndi Lauper’s hairstyle to how we could end world hunger.
Our friendship met a dramatic end when Ginny and I tried out for cheerleading. She made the squad, while I and my double-jointed arms experienced elimination during the first round.
Being told that my arms looked “creepy” when I held them straight and that I “lacked the required amount of coordination” didn’t surprise me.
Being told by the friend I loved as if she were my sister that remaining my friend would hold her back from popularity … that blow struck, and I never saw it coming.
The friendship couldn’t be saved.
I tried, but changing the mind and heart of a 13-year-old girl who desperately desired approval from her peers proved an impossible feat. I had to let go of being best friends with Ginny.
The end of a friendship is devastating at any age. It’s a loss worth mourning. But there is much that doesn’t need to get lost when you have to let go:
The Ability to Forgive
When stung by betrayal, my natural bent veers far from a desire to extend mercy — and not just to the person who did me wrong. When I’m hurt, I back away. I build walls. I run. Sometimes I even fight back.
In those moments of pain, protecting myself from further disappointment becomes my top priority. When I embrace this mind-set, I’m slow to forgive and quick to feel entitled to some sort of emotional justice. But forgiveness empowers both the wounded and the wounder.
Forgiveness heals both hearts and ties mine closer to Jesus, who brings true peace and acceptance.
Pain screams, and when front and center, it prevents the mind from focusing on anything other than the present agony. But regardless how ugly a friendship may end, that ugliness should not be allowed to bury the moments of beauty.
Allow yourself to hold on fondly to memories of good times. Learn from those moments. Remember that at least for a period of time, that friendship was a valued gift.
After a season of heartbreak, friendship might not seem like it’s worth the risk. There have been several times in my life when I decided to play the “Jesus is the only friend I need” card. I pushed humans aside and devoted more time to studying God’s word.
On the surface, that appears to be the best course of action — and certainly my relationship with the Lord should be my primary relationship — but the motivation was self-serving. I used extra Bible study as an excuse to protect myself.
The truth is that yes, we were made for a relationship with God, but we also were put on this earth to share fellowship with others … to love and to serve and to shine the light of Jesus that fills our hearts.
So while some friendships won’t last forever, never lose hope that God can heal all wounds. Never lose hope that rich friendships can still be found.
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
What a beautiful post this morning and a reminder that friendships are worth having even if they leave us wounded. Somehow the worldly wisdom of “better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all” brings with it some truth. Loving, like Christ loved, in any type of relationship brings with it the fear of being hurt. Christ loves us, knowing full well, that we may not love him back. Yet, forgiveness and hope prevail. I know that my natural inclination when hurt is to retreat and to not want to risk being hurt again, but that response squelches hope – hope that love will ultimately prevail. Thank you for the encouragement to hold on to what good that comes from relationships and to not give up hope.
Wow. This same cheerleading thing happened to my daughter and her best friend years ago. It was hard on her…even harder on me, as I watched her navigate her life after the loss of her friend. In the end, it turned out to be the best thing ever for all of us. God can and does heal all wounds over time.
I am experiencing this right now and just before reading your devotional today had asked God to carry this pain as it was too much for me. Thank you for sharing this as forgiveness for the other party and myself, gratitude for beautiful memories, and hope for rich friendships in the future is just what I need to focus on. Our Father is so faithful.
Thank you for sharing and God bless you!!
Angela, good words. Thank you for sharing. Been praying and believing God to heal friendship relationships & open doors to friendships, after many of them being broken & strained that last 3 years. Jesus is the way maker. His will be done. Amen
Martha T. says
Your words are encouraging me this morning! I have been praying for a friend.
Thank you for sharing your story. In the past couple of years I have lost a dear friend due to a variety of circumstances. It has been heart-wrenching. It was just recently that I allowed myself to mourn the “death” of this friendship. Wow! What a difference that has made. I was finally able to forgive and move forward. Thank you again!
It’s like you wrote this for me and it was exactly what I needed to hear. I’m in the midst of recovering from an ugly ending to a very long term friendship… Thank you for this!
I’m going thru a divorce I did not want. I can’t even express the betrayal I have experienced. The loss is profound. Not only losing my marriage and who I though was my best friend I have lost friends…I don’t get that. I have no family, seriously, none. I have gotten very involved in a new church where I’m making friends on a similar journey in life but I still face spending the holidays alone…again. Being reminded of the betrayal. I keep reaching for Jesus and asking Him to bring me the “family” He wants in my life. Sometimes I do just fine. Most times my heart is breaking.
Missy Robinson says
I have been in your shoes and understand the betrayal. May I only say that truly the Lord will and is already providing what you will need for the holidays. Keep reaching out to others, it’s okay (and not needy) to share how difficult this season will be and to seek sisters to walk through it with you. For me, having a plan always helps…it was when I just let the holidays arrive hoping I could muddle through that I experienced the deepest sense of loss. Can you volunteer somewhere? Join another family? Gather with another group of friends who do not have family with whom to celebrate?
The way you feel now isn’t the way you will always feel. You will come through this closer to God than you ever thought possible. The hurt you experience is the reason He came. We are broken and we need Christ. He will be with you.
I sure needed this post today! Thank you for the encouragement!
Jennifer Kostick says
Angela, I love your brave words today! Those adolescent years are hard, in fact, these years can be hard too. I’m so thankful The Lord gives friendship and encouragement as gifts to us. We can find hope in the moments of sweet communion with each other, when we choose to press onward through the bitter moments. Thanks for sharing your story today, friend ! 🙂
Jeanne Takenaka says
Wow, Angela. This post resonated with me as a friendship I thought would span the years till we were old and walking with stoops died with some very poor choices by my friend. My heart grieves the loss of what we had. But even more, it grieves as I see the fall out from her choices. I haven’t given myself permission to grieve the loss of this once-precious relationship. I’ve worked through most of my anger and hurt, and I’ve begun to pray for her again.
God truly is the One who fills our needs, but He gave us the “wanting” for connection with others. Especially as women. Thanks for the reminder that God still heals relationships and that He provides richness in friendships.
You’ve obviously hit a chord with many of us today. Thanks for speaking honestly and tenderly to hearts today.
Really needed to hear this. Very sad but very true & encouraging.
i am in tears as I read this. Confirmation that I need to keep on choosing to forgive. every moment when the memory overwhelms. i find myself asking the Lord to show me how He was able. His strength in my weakness. and because I have been asking to be healed of my wounds. since I want to move on. Confirmation that it is not good to be alone and that I was born for relationship. Firstly with Him and then others. It is time.
Wow! Puts words to a lot of emotions wrapped around my marriage (been separated for going on 6 months) I sent part of the devotion to my husband, he called me in tears and it was the best calm conversation we’ve had since he moved out. Thank you Lord for answering prayers to reach in and touch my husband’s heart towards me. Thank you (In)courage for being God’s sweet messenger.
Kristy Byers says
Wow! This is how I woke up today. I’m not sure why, but I woke up “mourning”. Mourning a relationship that ended, on a good note, over 10 years ago. Why? Because a friend asked me about and said “I knew it. I saw the way the two of you looked at each other”. The truth is, I didn’t see it or just didn’t trust it. He was my best friend. I miss that. So I mourned. Then I thought “Cathy would understand”…and then I remembered that, as of January, she now lives with Jesus. And I mourned again. Then I remember how Cathy got a plane and flew up to spend the weekend with me because that relationship ended. I mourned but I offered up praise to God. Some people never get that “the way you looked at each other” and some people never have a friend willing to fly up to see you, just because a relationship ended. Even though I have thought of both of them often today, it has been with a grateful heart. My life has been so much richer because they were both in it. Thank you for your blog post. Seems like we were all on the same page today.
Beth Williams says
Great story! Friendship come and go. They never last forever. People are fickle and we move around. If you find one true BFF–“Battle Buddy” then you are truly blessed!
Michele Morin says
I’ve always considered myself a bridge-burner, but maybe it’s just a matter of having gone in a different direction than my old friends . . . hmm. Food for thought. Thanks.
I recently lost my long term best friend and I have no idea why. She is not a believer but that has been true for 20 years and don’t think it would make a difference now. I think it’s the lack of communication and closure that breaks my heart the most but maybe that’s only because I still hope things can be repaired. I do know Jesus is there for me and most times He is enough. Then I have days I just want to share something with her and I remember I can’t. 40 years of being there and caring for one another just gone? I have no idea how to proceed. I love her so much.