I bounced into the nail salon, excited to give my nails a little spring TLC. A new-to-me nail tech with curly dark hair framing beautiful brown eyes met me and delivered a warm greeting. She waved me back to her station, and I happily took a seat in the white leather chair.
After a bit of small talk, she asked me if I was getting my nails done for a special occasion. I told her that I wanted a nail spruce-up before taking a trip with a friend.
“Oh,” she responded, matter of factly. “I recently took a trip with a friend, but…” Her brown eyes bobbed up to mine and back down again. “It didn’t go so well.”
I looked at her with furrowed brows and responded, “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. What happened? If you don’t mind me asking.”
And that’s when she poured out her story, ripe and fresh as if it’d happened the same day.
Her friend, let’s call her Emily, was my nail tech’s best friend and roommate. She and her parents invited my nail tech, let’s call her Beth, on a cruise to Alaska. Beth was thrilled to be invited and planned her heart out for all sorts of Alaskan adventures. Emily seemed thrilled to share this experience with her bestie, too, and both girls reveled in all the fun activities the cruise offered. All was well until day three of the cruise when, suddenly, Emily became distant and aloof. Beth repeatedly asked what was wrong, and if she had done something to offend. Emily insisted she hadn’t, yet her behavior wouldn’t warm towards Beth. By day five of the trip, Emily coldly told Beth that their friendship was over. Beth, stunned and devastated, spent the remainder of the cruise on outings by herself or crying alone in her cabin. As soon as she returned home, she moved out of the apartment she had shared with Emily.
At the point in time when Beth shared this with me, she still had no idea what had caused Emily to suddenly and inexplicably do a 180-degree turn on their friendship. Emily’s behavior went beyond ghosting.
This sad story got me thinking: How does someone just cruelly terminate a longtime, important friendship on the turn of a dime? And why choose that course of action with no explanation? Talking things through may not save the relationship, but at least both parties could ask and share the “why” behind their decisions and have the opportunity to apologize for missteps.
If there’s a kind of change I dislike more than most, it’s a change in a friendship that I didn’t endorse. When this happens, it’s easy to lie awake at night asking all sorts of questions: Why did this happen? What did I do? What didn’t I do that I should’ve? Why is she handling it this way? We do this to try to make sense of whatever unexpected turn of events has left us reeling.
However, something doesn’t have to make sense for us to accept it. If you have a similar story to Beth’s (Oh, how sorry I am if you do), it’s okay to ask questions and ponder the “why’s” of what happened to dramatically change or abruptly end your friendship. But be kind to yourself by pivoting from questions with no answers to those with answers.
Here are 3 questions (and answers) that will provide a measure of relief and bring you to the truth:
- When a friendship breakup makes me question my worth, what does God say is true about me?
Nothing in all of creation can separate me from the love of God (See Romans 8:31-39.)
- When my circumstances change for the worst, what do I know won’t change?
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
- When questions keep me up at night, what can I rest in knowing is answered?
God says, “Never will I fail you or abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5).
In addition to expressing my sadness and sorrow to Beth, I told her that the definitive turn in her friend’s behavior was an opportunity to have her eyes opened to the truth where a blind spot had been — to see now what she couldn’t before. The truth: Emily wasn’t a true best friend. And while Beth’s experiences with her hurt tremendously, and it was right to mourn the loss of a friend, perhaps she was saved from pain later on because of this break in the friendship now.
I told her, in the words of my friend, Salena, “Sometimes, rejection is God’s protection against what isn’t in our best interest.”
“Yes,” she responded, a weak smile on her face. “Maybe that’s it.”
While this is true, knowing it doesn’t magically take the pain away. But it can provide a perspective that lightens the heart.
Friendships change for all sorts of reasons. Some friendships are life-long, others are seasonal. Some end amicably, others tragically. Only the love of God can fill the holes in our hearts and make us whole — in spite of a whole lot of unanswered questions.
God loves us and blesses us through our heartache, and Jesus (our Friend who knew friendship heartache Himself) walks with us.
That is a truth that’ll never change.
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