Have you ever had a friend you connected with almost instantly? It seems like most deep connections take time and effort before they are fully realized; but, once in a while a rare person may come you’re your life and you become fast friends. This happened to me when I was thirteen.
My aunt had a sleepover for the girls in our youth group and I found myself slightly uncomfortable with the topic of conversation that was taking place outside. So, I came inside where my aunt was entertaining a new addition to our group. She looked familiar, but we did not really know each other until later that night. I’ll call her “Mary.”
It did not take me long to realize that Mary had been through a lot in her short life. She was seventeen, which seemed quite old to me at the time, but in retrospect was very young for all she had experienced. She had recently prayed to receive Christ, and walked away from the life she had been living. I’m not sure what sparked it, but she told me, practically a stranger, her life story that night.
To accommodate all the girls that were there, we split ourselves up among the bedrooms and bedded down for the night. Mary and I ended up in my aunt’s bedroom, maybe because we actually wanted to sleep instead of goof off; but, if I recall, we got little sleep that night because we would not shut up! ~smile~ She talked about her testimony and why she walked away from the life she was living. She shared personal stories with me she would not have told “just anyone.” It really was an honor that she trusted me so quickly. I like to think God brought us to each other.
The Quickly-Formed Friendship
She woke up the next morning feeling a bit anxious that she had shared so much of her story with me. Hopefully her anxiety lessened as our friendship grew. From that day forward, we were practically inseparable. We both had a lot of time on our hands and we usually spent tons of it together. As a thirteen-year-old, it was so great to have a friend with a driver’s license and car that my parents trusted. Let’s just say we spent many nights getting food from Sonic and then driving wherever the wind took us – talking about anything and everything.
We talked about our futures. We wondered what God had in store for us. We dreamed about our future husbands. Much to her chagrin, we talked about whatever relationship I happened to be in at the time. She had a knack for being blatantly honest about her thoughts on my “love life.” And that was fine – I needed the truth.
When I think back to that season of life, I have to attribute our fast friendship to the time we gave it. If we had seen each other once a week at church, we would not have been nearly as close. But, since we were in constant contact – on the phone, going places together, at church, and at each other’s homes – we stayed in a constant state of connection. Some may have thought we were overly-connected because we were joined at the hip.
Though I wish I could say that Mary and I are still deeply connected today, the story does not end so happily, I’m afraid.
After a phone call that caught me off guard one day, I told her I could not remain friends with her. At the time, I truly believed I was making the right decision. And, I don’t think I really believed our friendship would completely end. Maybe take a step back for a while, but not be gone forever.
Even just a different choice of words may have saved our friendship and kept the communication lines open; but, when you tell someone, “I can’t be your friend as long as…,” it is not surprising when he or she receives your message as a complete rejection of who he or she is. At the time, I really thought it was the best decision; however, in retrospect, I am not so sure. Should I have prayed for more wisdom? Should I have prayed more for her? Should I have tried harder to reach out to her? (Though this may be leaving a hole of “What happened?!?” in your mind – for Mary’s privacy, I am not sharing the content of that phone call.)
Since that day, we have only spoken once or twice on the phone – both for extremely short periods of time and we have not laid eyes on each other since. Truth be told, I’m not even sure where she lives. If I learned anything from that experience, it is this: We need to be in constant prayer for and about our relationships. Not all friendships last forever and I understand that; but, the connections we hold dear should be valued, cherished, and saturated in prayer. Had I spent more time praying for Mary, and less time trying to do the “right thing” in my own strength and wisdom, this story may have had a very different outcome. I have had friendships fizzle, but this is the only time I have lost a dear friend so quickly.
Would Mary and I still be friends today if I had not been so quick to turn away? Maybe. Maybe not. Only God knows that. Would I have made the same decision if I had bathed the situation in prayer? Maybe. Maybe not. What bothers me most is not knowing. Did I break her heart? Could I have helped her? Did I walk away when she needed me most? I just don’t know.
Don’t assume your relationships will withstand anything you do. Be careful with your tongue. Be careful with your actions. Be careful to know when it is time to end a relationship instead of guessing and hoping for the best.
No matter how close you are to your loved ones, friends, and sweetie today, don’t take them, or your good relationships with them, for granted. Pray for them constantly. Ask God for wisdom about your relationships often and don’t make life-altering relationship decisions rashly or emotionally.
Learn from Mary and from me.
Have you ever lost a connection because of a hasty decision? What did you learn from the experience?