Brandi is writing for us today. I love this woman. I love her compassion for others and the fact that she is everyone’s biggest cheerleader. She’s my friend because God is cool and likes to give us people that we never expected. I love you Brandi.
What My Ex Friends Taught Me.
*All friends pictured are current friends*
I walked into the Krav Maga studio with fear and trembling. I had never done martial arts of any kind before, much less “Israeli hand-to-hand combat” and I was a more than a tad afraid. I was as scared of people as I was of the class, though. I had zero friends at the time in this town I had lived in for a year. I had recently gone through a messy divorce – so messy, in fact, that when the Krav Maga instructor asked me for an emergency contact that was local, I looked up with tear-filled eyes and said, “I don’t have one.” I wasn’t exaggerating. I was deeply alone, very wounded and just barely into the process of healing my broken soul. A few short months before, I’d had a robust group of friends who got together every Friday night as families. We prayed together, laughed together and planned our lives together. These were friends who promised in all earnestness, “You could never do anything to make me walk away from you.” And yet, that is exactly what happened.
I spent hours mourning the deaths of my friendships. I spent other hours being nasty about it all. Still more hours were spent begging Jesus for answers and for comfort as I came to grips with my new reality.
You know what, though? 4 years and 3 months later, I have friends. Real friends. LOTS of friends. Those folks at Krav Maga turned into a precious circle of friends who act like family. That group of atheists acted more like the church body to me than I had ever experienced before, loving me like Jesus did and accepting me fully and unreservedly. I also began to collect a little circle of single mom friends – most of them leaving deeply painful situations and finding themselves both friendless and churchless. These mamas banded together to love each other fiercely, to pursue healing doggedly and to parent our hurting kiddos together. Over time, after healing a lot personally and eventually starting a non-profit, I made other non-profit leading friends. Friends who ran safe houses, walked with abuse victims and dealt with world hunger. These women inspire me and make me wonder how world-changlers like this would even give me the time of day. 4 years and 3 months after feeling like I would never have friends again, like I would never be able to trust again and like I would never be worth having as a friend again, I feel whole and my life feels so full.
I’m thankful for those old friends, though. They were good to me while we were friends. They loved me well. They walked me through some very hard moments. Many of them were a part of walking me to freedom. Then, did they hurt me by walking away? Yep. But that one decision doesn’t have to determine whether or not I think they are good people. Good people do crappy things all the time. Sometimes, they don’t even know they are crappy! I am sure that those friends of mine probably thought they were doing what they had to do at the time. They may not even know the deep wounds they caused and the lies the enemy spoke over me because of their actions. But here’s the bottom line: it’s ok. Jesus uses everything. He takes all the fragmented pieces of our lives to weave together something beautiful. He took those wounds and used them for His glory and He took the gap they left and filled it with
such amazing people who I am constantly amazed.
Here’s what it taught me about friendship, though. Friendship can be cyclical. Sometimes friendships shift because of where our kids are in life, what our work schedule is, new interests that are picked up, a new spouse or boyfriend and sometimes they are traumatic events that leave deep wounds. Both causes of change bring pain and grieving as you mourn what once was and miss someone who was dear to your heart. Someone can be your absolute bestie and God can use them to teach you beautiful things and visa versa. Then, somewhere along the way, because you just grow apart or because something dramatic happens, friendships change. Sure it can be painful, but part of the pain is trying to figure out if now you have to throw away all the good stuff and consider them a villain or if you can still treasure those things. What if we began to just let people be people? What if we realized that just because something changed doesn’t mean those times weren’t beautiful and glorious and worth remembering fondly? What if we allowed our friendships a bit of freedom? The freedom to stay close and the freedom to move on or drift away if necessary for whatever reason. What if we trusted Jesus enough to pick up broken pieces, to comfort our hearts when we go through grieving and to fill empty spaces when needed?
Right now do I believe the friends I have today will be my forever friends and they’ll never walk away from me? No, not necessarily. I don’t put all my eggs in the basket of having to trust that 100%. Instead, I trust that I love them and that they are good women who love deeply and who both teach me and learn alongside me. I trust that if something happens and they drift or walk away that these times spent together were deeply beautiful and that God has good plans for both of us. No victims. No villains. Just women choosing to love well those around us, walk our lives side by side right now and trust Jesus for everything else.