I pulled up to the apartment complex and entered the gate code. I was eager to see my friend and surprise her with my impromptu visit. I waited for the gates to swing open and let me in. Nothing. I entered the code again, still excited to catch up after what seemed like months since we last saw each other. The gates didn’t budge. Did I forget the four-digit combination?
I began scrolling through the directory, looking for my friend’s name. Never in a million years could I have imagined what was about to happen. As I went through the entire list of tenants, her name never came up.
There must be some mistake. This is where she lives. I continued scrolling through the list several times until it finally hit me. Trust me when I tell you I’m pretty slow at catching on. It took me about 5 failed attempts through the directory before figuring out my friend moved and didn’t tell me.
I was dumbfounded. My mind began reeling as I tried to remember our last conversation.
She was a bridesmaid in my wedding. We worked together, hung out on the weekends, and scheduled playdates with our babies. I didn’t know what to think and I had no idea what I could have done to make her cut me off so suddenly and without warning.
I’d like to tell you this story ends with me and my friend speaking and clearing the air. I’d like to tell you we’re still friends and our kids still have playdates. I can’t.
I went home that day feeling very confused and extremely hurt. When someone walks out of your life with no explanation, it leaves a lot of unanswered questions. The feelings of rejection stir insecurities of not being good enough. I didn’t understand why she no longer wanted to be my friend.
I have a hard time sharing that story. It’s embarrassing. I sometimes tell it, and everyone standing around laughs at the punchline … “And my friend moved away and didn’t tell me!” This is the part where we all laugh and Shanda feels like an idiot. But, I like telling you the REAL things about me because no one’s life is perfect and I’ve been rejected by friends too.
Friendships are some of the best relationships we can have. They’re made by choice. We choose to be in one another’s lives and that’s what makes them special. That’s also the reason it hurts so badly when someone you thought was a friend doesn’t want to be in your life any longer. I call it the friend break-up, and it’s more common than you think.
Let’s face it. There are going to be people in our lives that don’t want to be our friend. I know, I know. How can anyone not want to be friends with us, right? I get it. But it doesn’t matter how fun you are or if you laugh at all the dumb jokes and bust out your best nineties dance moves. It’s just a fact of life.
After this incident I told myself I would never be fooled again. If someone doesn’t want to be my friend, I am not going to chase them down. You either want me in your life or you don’t. If I have to work too hard at being your friend then I’m OUT! I have a really hard time trusting friends and my expectations have risen so high, I sometimes think they’re unreasonable.
But, that’s not a healthy way to handle friendships. And since then, God has taught me a thing or two about how to handle being fooled by a friend.
So, what do we do when we’ve been dumped by a friend and how do we move forward?
1. Give your friends all of you.
Don’t change who you are. Be the person willing to look foolish by showing up for your friends. It’s a risk. Every time we put our hearts out there, we can get hurt. But true friendships are an investment we have to be willing to make.
John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” I used to hate the fact that I discovered my friend moved away by showing up to her empty apartment. But does it matter? I gave the relationship my all.
Friendships always require we lay ourselves down … we sacrifice, we listen, we give and sometimes we look foolish. In the end, no one can say we didn’t give it our best shot.
2. Let them go, but keep them close in prayer.
I’m still a firm believer that if someone doesn’t want to be my friend, I’m not going to force it. Hey, I’m not a stalker. I can tell when people aren’t diggin’ me. As soon as I spot it I graciously bow out and back off.
I want to make clear that I don’t think my friend deliberately hurt me. She just moved on with her life and she didn’t have room to keep me in it. I let her go, but I think of her often.
Paul says in Phil 1:3, “I thank God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you …” I still pray for her and ask God to bless her family. Praying for her has healed me of the hurt and comforts me to know that God sees her.
If a close friend has hurt you, I strongly suggest praying for them. Ask God to bless them. You never know; maybe your friend will come around. Either way, there’s something about praying for those who hurt you that heals the soul.
3. God understands rejection.
Did you know Jesus was rejected by one of His closest friends? Judas turned Jesus in to the religious leaders and He was led away to die; betrayed with a kiss.
It often comforts me to know that God understands what it feels like to be rejected by a close friend. Psalm 41:9 says, “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.”
If you’ve been rejected by a friend, it hurts. You will need some time to process it, but keep in mind you may never understand why. It’s just a part of life, my friend. It’s a part of friendship we don’t like to talk about. It’s the unglamorous and very realistic part of life that sometimes takes its course as we live it out.
But we serve a God who understands this kind of hurt. He’s been there and He can heal your hurt too.
As we close today, I want to admit something to you. I was going to tell you how not to be fooled by a friend like I was. But, that’s not what God wants.
Continue to be there for those you call a friend until they make it clear they don’t want you around. Continue believing the best in people until it finally hits you that the relationship is not what you thought. Be big hearted and love others with all you got. Eventually, you’ll get a friend who will love you just the same.
So, I guess the challenge today is to not only be willing to be fooled once. Be willing to be fooled as many times as it takes as long as you come out as the friend who gave it your all. Those are the kind of friends I want to have, and that’s the kind of friend I want to be.
Praying blessings in your friendships and healing in your heart!