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Transitions in Friendship

I recently caught up with a friend whose wedding is quickly approaching.

After getting an update on the wedding planning fun, we moved on to more

serious stuff. Namely, how does one prepare herself and others for the ways their

relationships will inevitably change? Recalling all my friendships that have

flourished throughout the seasons, I realized that the secret ingredient in

every healthy transition is grace and faithfulness.

Scripture says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over

a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). When we choose to relate with Christlike

love, it unleashes a grace and patience for the clumsiest points of human

relationships. Whether moving out of state, getting

married or having babies, maintaining healthy friendships requires

understanding and effort.

The Bible doesn’t mince words when it describes how close God wants spouses

to be: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to

his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). He also called people

to leave all they hold dear for the sake of Christ (Luke 5:11). Fully embracing

these God-designed changes are a matter of obedience, but how do we thrive

where God has called us to, while rightly stewarding the relationships He has

blessed us with thus far?

Be All There

First of all, we must be present. Jesus exemplified being present throughout

His ministry. His very name, Immanuel, shouts of

presence. He is God with us. If we intend to represent His incarnational

character wherever we are, we must as Jim Elliot said, “be all there.”

That said, the act of being present isn’t license to neglect the

relationships God has blessed us with. Proverbs says that a friend loves at all

times (Proverbs 17:7) not a friend loves when it’s convenient. So how do we

reflect God’s faithfulness in the uncertainty of transitions?

Be Considerate

If you’re the friend who is instigating a new transition, be aware that your

loss is eased by the excitement of a new adventure. Those you leave behind may

feel the initial loss more sharply than you do. Conversely, the person who is

jumping into a new season has a lot of adjusting to do in finding his place in

his new world, and new responsibilities can be exhausting. Assure your friends

of their value, and be patient with one another as you find your new normal.

Believe the Best

Sometimes I struggle in the “keeping in touch” arena. At times life has been

particularly frenzied; at others I’ve failed to be intentional with those who

are miles and miles away. During those full times, my friend Lesley lives out 1

Corinthians 13 love for me when she says, “I trust your heart toward me.” She

chooses to believe the best in me, even when the schedules and time zones keep

us from connecting as often as we’d like. This trust builds even more trust,

and I can rest assured that she isn’t assuming the worst of me when I fall off

the map.

Have Healthy Expectations

With the advent of Skype, Facebook and unlimited text plans, it is easier

than ever to stay in touch, but sometimes the convenience of modern

communication tricks us into thinking that keeping in touch will be easy. We

can’t predict how things will change, but we can expect that they will change

somehow. Make peace with the fact; be flexible and choose to become an advocate

for God’s call in one another’s lives no matter where it sends you.

Remember Change Doesn’t Mean the End

I’m incredibly sentimental. In my mind, every transition is the end of an

era, and I weep nostalgically. Dramatic as I am, things have never been as

final as I expected them to be. There are pockets of sweet friendship that find

their way to us even after a husband and a tribe of children enter the picture,

or continents separate us. Distance is not the enemy of friendship. Things

change, but in embracing that change I find that things are better — richer,


Transitions are indeed clumsy. We’re likely to hit a few bumps in the road,

and not all friendships survive them, but we aren’t meant to collect friends

like stamps. Our friendships are a gift of grace. We can only endeavor to be

faithful and gracious with what God has given us: relationships, as well as

stations in life. If we endeavor to reflect His character where we are, we can

trust Him with the rest. 

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