As a teacher working in a city that shuts down at the first sight of snow, I should have been excited for the almost inevitable gift of entire days locked inside with nothing more to do than watch movies and relax, but that wasn’t my perspective. Instead, I anticipated hiding away in my room in order to avoid too much time spent with housemates.
Just a year earlier, a close friend of mine had moved into my house. Having similar interests and shared faith, I thought it was a great fit. However, in time I found that we were constantly disagreeing about almost everything. We were raised in very different familial environments and had different perspectives and attitudes about almost everything from friendships and romantic relationships to money and education. We were both very opinionated and so we had a difficult time seeing eye- to- eye with each other.
In time, we grew apart. I stopped inviting her to things, we stopped hanging out, and eventually, after a few verbal fights, our relationship was so strained that we no longer greeted one another when we saw each other. For months I felt like I couldn’t live in my own home; when I absolutely had to be there, I was in my bedroom reading or studying.
I think what began as minor problems between me and my friend soon developed into larger issues that were more difficult to work through. I had personally come to a point where I thought it would be easier to just let things be (even if I was miserable) rather than try to change the situation. I wanted to mend our relationship, but we had grown so distant—I didn’t know where to begin. Even though I tried my best to be charitable and communicate with her, it seemed like an impossible task. The gap that had formed between us now seemed impossible to bridge.
One spring morning, my housemates and I received news that she was leaving her job and moving away. A sense of relief and peace swept over me, but the news also left me feeling guilty and angry with myself. I asked myself, “What could I have done to be a better friend?” and “Why were things going to end this way?” This was the only relationship in my life that I desired forgiveness for, but I didn’t actually want reconciliation because I was afraid of what that would look like. My wounds were (and still are) pretty deep.
After she left, I began seriously reflecting and even praying about our friendship. What had happened between us?
And even though I do not blame her for everything that went wrong in the relationship, I knew that at first, I had to acknowledge the reality that I had been hurt. Sometimes relationships do that, and certain friendships are just not good for us. But sometimes its good to acknowledge problems and address them early on so it doesn’t get to the point it did with my friend. I have found that a true test of a good friendship is whether or not growth is part of the relationship. Although we may not always see eye to eye with our friends, we should be able to respect and value the other person and his or her opinions and perspective. But, if we are constantly feeling anxious or unloved, maybe it’s time to consider taking a step back.