The God of Friendships Past
My husband's mom died last week, and the body of Christ has proved its "family" love in multiple ways. Kelley and Mary brought loads of food; church people who did not even know us hosted two different lunches for strangers; folks sent flowers and money to causes my mom-in-law loved; some sent cards; many delivered hugs. And my friend Mary DeMuth provided this guest post. I'm delighted to welcome her as a featured columnist:
I drove by a restaurant that reminded me of a dear friend. She used to invite me over, grab takeout teriyaki, and we’d eat and laugh over chicken and steamed veggies. So when I passed a similar restaurant, just a simple storefront, I remembered her.
Then I fretted.
Because we haven’t been in contact for many years. I’ve tried, but I can’t seem to locate her (we both have moved several times since our friendship), which made me very sad. This causes grief in my heart. For some reason I think I should maintain every single friendship in my life, up to the level it was in the past. Of course, logically, I know this is impossible. People move (I did; she did), and friendships die, change, morph, or move on. It’s just not easy for me to let go.
I grew up in a home of chaos, loneliness and trauma. So my friends have become my family. So many times, it’s been friends I’ve turned to when life has tossed its inevitable grenades my way. I am far more apt to call a friend when I’m hurting than dial a family member.
Once, my dear friend Leslie made an astute observation. She said something like, “Mary, your friendships are so integral to your life because you couldn’t rely on your family.” And she was right. We were born for relationship, and if we don’t experience it in our first community, the family, we seek it elsewhere. And when a friendship breaks, whether by distance or a sadly calculated breakup, I reel.
Post Teriyaki drive-by, I prayed for my friend. And the Lord was so kind to remind me:
Do you believe I am the God of friendships past?
Yes, Lord, I told Him.
Then place her in My hands. I will take care of her.
This brought intense relief (and will continue to do so as I dare to keep placing that friendship in His hands.) God loves my long lost friend far more than I do. He will take care of her. And if He wants us reunited, it will happen. And if not on this earth, then in the great hereafter. I find solace in that.
So I remember my teriyaki-giving friend, her smile, her generosity, her sage advice, and I entrust her to the One who created her, while I remember again that God brings relationships into my life for seasons. He asks me to surrender outcomes, even friendship outcomes, to Him.
I wrote The Seven Deadly Friendships because losing friends, like my teriyaki friend above, hasn’t always been because of geography. I’ve experienced a few painful friendship breakups, and as I searched for help, I found many (important) divorce recovery books, but no friendship breakup aftermath books.
This is one of my most vulnerable books, precisely because it deals in my most significant relationships and their demise. It helps readers understand toxic relationships and why they’ve sometimes pursued them. And it offers a pathway of hope through the lives of Joseph (of Genesis fame) and Jesus, who both encountered the seven deadly friendships—and yet moved on to accomplish God’s purposes.
I believe that although we are wounded in painful community, the pathway toward wholeness comes in embracing safe community. So I’ll not only help readers discern current and past painful relationships, but also provide tools to help move on after a friendship breakup. My sincere prayer is that a toxic friendship won’t sideline you, but empower you to move on, grow in your sanctification journey, and become a better friend.
If you think you’re in a toxic relationship, you can take this free quiz.
Find out more about The Seven Deadly Friendships.