“People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you will know exactly what to do.” Thus begins one of my favorite pieces of writing—this one by Brian A. Chalker. Yet with some friendships, many of us neglect to do exactly what we need to do: move on. Instead, we attempt to hang on too long or we waste time beating ourselves up for some imagined failure along the way as if every encounter were meant to last for a lifetime.
“Then without any wrongdoing on your part…this person will say or do something to bring the friendship to an end” Chalker continues. Sometimes friends move away or die or just stop returning your calls. Yet they were there for the time we needed them to be and it’s now time to move on.
Often, we’re the one to make the first move in ending a friendship by making ourselves less available or being too busy. Yet we must give ourselves permission to do so. Perhaps we’ve grown weary of a friend’s negative or toxic attitude, their complacency or failure to grow. You no longer have time for such nonsense or mediocrity. You’ve invested in yourself, grown personally and professionally and met new people who challenge and inspire you to be your best. In short, you’ve decided to swim in a larger pond by expanding your capacity. The season has ended for friendship with people who resist or resent the person you’re becoming.
Throughout my coaching career I’ve had clients who were like friends to me, but to fulfill my job as a coach, our professional relationship came first and was not meant to last forever. Some relationships are—some aren’t. The key is to know the difference and make social connections and friendships a priority.
A Personal Friendship Story
Last month my “friend for a lifetime,” went to her eternal reward. Well, it wasn’t quite a lifetime, but since-ninth-grade is almost a lifetime. We had six months to tell each other what our friendship meant to us and to reminisce and laugh over some of our teen-age antics like sassing our mothers and breaking curfew one night by riding our bikes at midnight. We recalled the times she and I drove cross country together and the 8-day cruise down the Rhine we took with our husbands.
The day she was told by her doctor, “It’s time to contact hospice,” she told her family she wasn’t ready for that and asked them to line up a wheelchair and take her to the Tulip Parade so she could see her granddaughter dance in the parade. Through it all, increasing disability and round-the-clock oxygen the last two years of her life, she never complained. The lessons she taught me those last few months are monumental and I hope they never leave me. Lifetime relationships teach us lifetime lessons to be invested in future relationships. Resilience has never been my strong suit, but as one of the qualities I pray for daily, I work at it and God is helping me. And now, it’s time to move on.
Friendships and Being Social are Good for Your Health
To enjoy a continuum of friendships, we must continue to grow in ways that make a difference, and reach out to new people who share our beliefs and values. Spend time with people who laugh and make plans for tomorrow. Fully explore valued friendships before assessing them as “over,” or casting them off too soon.
Last night, on a long-shot, I reached out to a friend of several years with whom I had lost contact at least three years ago. None of the usual channels gave any clues so somewhat cautiously, I left my contact information with a third party saying, if you’d be so kind to pass this along, tell her I’d like to hear from her and invite her to lunch. This morning before I was awake, a message came through from my friend saying, “Great to hear from you! I’d love to get together for lunch. Here’s my mobile number.” By noon, we had something on our calendars. What if I had just let it go—given up too soon? Who is there—who was there in your life that would love to hear from you? Solid friendships are invaluable, precious and to be cherished.
According to this month’s Harvard Women’s Health Watch, “Social isolation can affect our lifespan”…and “Socializing should be as much a part of your everyday life as exercise and good nutrition.” Make a resolution to treasure the friendships you have been given and the lessons you have learned.
May your holidays be merry, bright and spent with friends and others you love.
© Judith DeLapa High-Impact 2017