Friday, July 26, 2013

When Friendships End

by Rev. Laura Barclay

One of the more painful or disruptive events in life can be the end of a friendship. For various reasons, people lose friends. Sometimes we drift apart as our life experiences differ, sometimes one friend chooses a destructive path and the other one can't follow, and sometimes we try to make something work that simply doesn't. Occasionally, as in failed relationships, we try to look back and figure out where things went wrong.

We ask ourselves the following questions: What if we had done things differently? What if we had been more intentional instead of drifting apart? Should we have endured more before ending the friendship? What happened?

Some of mine have ended for a variety of reasons: geography; mutual drifting apart due to separate interests; he/she or I didn't have the emotional maturity to deal with situations in a friendship; selfishness  (again he/she or I); or, occasionally, behavior that crosses the line of what one can tolerate in a friendship (e.g. sexual harassment, violence, etc.).

The truth is, many friendships end. Rev. Shasta Nelson shares several questions one should ask before ending a friendship. These might be helpful in working through the situation you are in or have just experienced. What I really like about this article is that she stresses listening, compassion and forgiveness while understanding that if you have done your part, it might be time to "drift apart."

In the times when I have had to "drift apart" from someone, or someone has had to do that to me, I try to pray for forgiveness for my failings in that relationship and bless the other person. We tend to view everything as one-sided, though that is rarely the case. Instead, I visualize a prayer that is something like the following:

God, I am sorry for my failings in this friendship. Even as I mourn the end of this earthly relationship, I have hope in your heavenly kingdom. In Revelation 7:9, John tells us that he sees, "a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands." We know that some day we will all carry the palm branches of peace, and we will continue to work in your name to do so. Please bless those who are no longer earthly friends to do the same and to flourish, and may we all keep hope in you, God. Amen.

This helps us acknowledge our own failings while affirming hope in our shared God and blessing those who we are no longer friends with to do the same and to be well. The worst thing you can do is to maintain bitterness that will only hurt your happiness and keep you from being the authentically beautiful child of God that you are. Remember that your former friends have taught you valuable lessons about yourself that you will carry for life and have probably made you a better, more thoughtful and less selfish person.

So blessings to friends, former friends and friends yet to be for your love, compassion, life lessons learned and still to be learned!


  1. Beautiful. And a hearty Amen from my corner. I think sometimes we are guilty of making things "work" that don't new to because its the "Christian thing to do". Sometimes letting go can create space to receive what we were unable to receive when we held so much.

    1. I think that's a good word! I like to think that if we let go we can use that space to be more creative, helpful and good to one another and ourselves.

  2. Laura, thank you for writing this... It helps me as I navigate the breakdown of a significant friendship in my life.

    1. I'm glad it helps, Will! You'll be in my prayers! Also, I think you are just down the road from us now since we moved to Louisville. We should have lunch or dinner the next time we are down (our parents live around Lexington).