Years ago, I had a friend whom I met through work. We joked around in the office, commiserated when things got ugly (thanks to a very difficult boss), and socialized outside of the work place. She was an actress and I watched her captivate audiences in small, intimate theaters. We had dinner together and discussed anything that came to mind. She had very different views from me on life and work and God and just about everything. She offered me a fresh perspective and always left me feeling challenged and charged.
Then she hit a rough patch. She left that awful office for another job which folded within a week. She stayed unemployed for a long time. Throughout this time, we met for coffee. We discussed job searches but also God and his plans and his timing and our impatience.
Finally, she got steady work. She was happy at first, but then dissatisfaction enveloped her like her own personal cloud. She couldn’t get promoted, she couldn’t get another job, she was stuck. She became short-tempered and argumentative.
She got a chance to study abroad. It was a great opportunity and I was thrilled. I felt it was the best break she could have gotten. I met with her a few months before she left and mentioned how I looked forward to hearing all about her big adventure. As we talked, it slowly dawned on me that she was starting a new life and leaving behind her old life — of which I was a part. This was our last breakfast together.
I tried to stay in touch with her, but she ceased contact, so I did likewise.
I thought about her this morning. I was disappointed that our friendship ended, but realize that such is the way it needed to be. She started a new life and wanted her old life to stay outside the fence, and if I am any kind of friend at all, I’ll respect her wishes and wish her well. And, frankly, I understand. I have had a few fresh starts myself.
I am also reminded that, as I get ready to go into a new phase myself, I can shed relationships without guilt or grief. The folks I leave behind may be disappointed or disgruntled, but they will not be destroyed. They have their own dreams and desires, and they will understand.