Tonight I have one fewer.
Friendship usually starts out very naturally. We connect with someone and find commons interests, common values, and a real sense of camaraderie begins to develop.
When I was in college, I became friends with a guy who was amazingly talented. As for potential, the sky was the limit. We spent a lot of time just hanging out together. Even my move to Texas did not do much to distance us. We continued to talk, to visit, and help keep each other accountable — walking the straight and narrow road, so to speak. Scripture says that as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. That characterized our friendship for quite a long time.
However, things were not always as they seemed. That’s often the case, isn’t it? My friend was struggling with something that left him feeling terribly alone, incredibly empty, and always searching for that which was missing or lacking in life.
I watched him fight for a long time. I prayed with him. I prayed for him. I did my best to give godly counsel and biblical instruction. Most of you probably know by now where this is going.
At some point along the way, I began to realize that maybe the two of us didn’t have quite so much in common. Maybe we didn’t share the same values.
Over the past week, I was forced to confront my friend about his thinking and behavior — not with a goal of judging him but with an intent to help restore him. The problem with the truth is that it’s not always pretty. And no matter how much I tried to demonstrate respect and genuine concern for my friend, it became crystal clear that his primary interest was in me supporting personal choices that are clearly destructive.
I’m too much of a friend to do that.
In the ‘old days’ when friends parted ways, it was typically done in person or by phone. However, in today’s world of modern technology, such partings often take place through e-mail, text messages, or social networking sites — like Facebook. That’s what happened in this instance. I was ‘unfriended’ on Facebook by a person I truly care about. (I did confirm that my friend had ‘cut me out.’) This wasn’t one of those ‘friends’ who just knew of me in high school. . .or someone who requested to be my ‘friend’ just to see my online photo albums. This is someone I spent hours with — talking, laughing, and doing life. This is someone who was in my wedding. This is someone I considered a really good friend.
Sometimes things don’t turn out like we planned. That goes for relationships as well.
Tonight I grieve the loss of a friend. It is clear to me that even if there is reconciliation at some point, things will never be the same again. And for that I grieve as well.
As I reflect on this situation, I take comfort in several things:
- I did my best to share God’s truth in love and with respect.
- I reminded my friend how much God loves him — and how much I love him as well.
- I left open the door for future communication. In fact, I would welcome it.
But the thing which brings me the most comfort is the knowledge that God is working out His purposes — even in this situation. He has a plan.
The one thing with which I struggle is the fact that no matter how much I want my friend to experience abundant joy, that is a choice that only he can make. I will continue to pray for him as he searches to find that joy and abiding peace that only Christ can give.
Please pray for my friend. . .that God would reveal Himself in undeniable ways.