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.