I lost a friend a few weeks ago.
She didn't move away. She didn't die. She just walked away from our friendship! We were good friends. In fact, best friends! We did everything together. She knew everything about me, my kids knew her really well, and my husband was used to seeing her around all the time. She had fridge rights, if you know what I mean! We were close…
Our friendship lasted for 30 years almost to the day! That's remarkable considering I moved countries, changed languages, adjusted to a new culture and live a different life than she and I were used to as kids. She was such a good friend that she left everything behind to be with me. She’s been there in the good times, but mostly in the sad times. She’s wiped away my tears and held me as I tried to regain strength to keep living.
I could say the end of our friendship was all her fault, but it wasn’t. I could say I didn’t see it coming, but I did.
It started a few months ago. Friends and family began hinting at the unhealthy level of influence she had over me. I didn’t pay much attention to their observations until God spoke to me and said, ‘As long as you hold on to her I will never be able to fully hold on to you.’
I heard the words behind his words – ‘It’s her or me. You choose.’ Needless to say I started putting distance between us. I know, I know, I should’ve ended it right then and there, but it took me a while.
When she called and asked if she could come over for morning coffee and devotions, I said, ‘Not today.’ She reminded me of our tradition and tried to convince me to let her come over, but I didn’t give in.
I was elated to find out that my devotions were so much more precious and productive without her there. No distractions, no tangents, just God and me! I had never been able to actually memorize large portions of Scripture, but now I was doing just that! Since I had no one to talk to as I prayed, I actually listened to God and journaled as he spoke so candidly about life with him and our future together. She kept calling, but it got easier and easier to say no.
When she came by unexpected to a family event, I set clear boundaries and asked for privacy. I know it was harsh, but I should have done that a long time ago. My kids loved it because they had my full attention and I even got silly and played with them. Quite the change, if you knew me…
The worst was when she showed up at the restaurant during my date night just to remind me of something I had forgotten to do. Talk about a stalker right? Brian was furious, and so was I. She sat next to me, didn’t even acknowledge my husband who was about to share a bite of his food with me and started ripping me apart. Thankfully, she is a very discrete person, so nobody heard her vicious whispers but me!
I had reached my limit. As she spewed out venom and told me how ridiculous it was for me to enjoy date night while things fell apart at work, I stopped her mid-sentence, put my hand in front of her face, (oh no you didn’t… oh yes, I did!) and said, ‘This is the last time you speak to me this way. In fact, this is the last time we speak at all. Find a new friend. Find a life and let me live mine.’
Brian was speechless… imagine that! He’d been telling me to do that ever since we got married. I was shocked that I had actually uttered those final words. My friend’s voice grew smaller and smaller as her eyes grew bigger and bigger, and tears streamed down her face.
After about thirty seconds of her sulking, me staring, and Brian smiling, she pushed her chair back, stood up quietly and simply walked away.
That was three weeks ago. I guess that marked the end of our 30-year friendship. I haven’t seen her. I haven’t heard from her. I haven’t even given her a thought until now. I assumed she would be back, but this time she finally got the message.
I still have sad times and even painful times. But I am not holding onto her anymore. God’s holding onto me and that has made all the difference. Sadness does not overwhelm me anymore. Darkness doesn’t keep me from seeing the light of hope anymore. He’s holding me… and I’m just resting, nestled safely in His arms.
I could say I miss her, but I would be lying. I love my life without her! I love who I have become in these last few weeks – full of life, full of joy, full of God.
My friend GUILT has left the building. My friend GOD has moved in!
Some of us may never admit we have engaged in intimate friendship with guilt, but at one point or another, we all do. Guilt has our ear, our trust, and our devotion, while it moves into our homes and wreaks havoc on our minds, hearts, and relationships. In my case, guilt was my friend until I realized that bad company corrupts character and that I could go from guilt to God. Today, choose to walk away from a toxic friendship with guilt and into the loving arms of the friend who sticks closer than a brother.
‘Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set yout free from the law of sin and death.’ Romans 8:1-2
- Mercy Alarid is the Creative Arts Pastor of Passion Church. Mercy has a Master's degree in Education. Mercy is a member of the faculty of Central New Mexico Community College, where she is an instructor in the Education department. Mercy has been married to Brian for 17 years and they reside in Albuquerque, New Mexico with their 3 children: Chloe, Colin, and Lauren.