To All the (Best Friends) I Loved Before
To All the (Best Friends)
I Loved Before
A letter to the ones who have drifted and
maybe changed your life for the better
BY JESSICA LAWSON
Now, I’m no Lara Jean Covey (she's way cooler than I am), but sometimes it sounds really amazing to write a letter to all of my ex-best friends. Maybe to rehash how we ended our sweet sisterhoods, maybe to rewrite old wounds into little bruises to keep them in my favorites, or maybe to just say, “Wow I miss you and I'm so thankful for you.”
I don’t think we give enough credit to the hurt a dear friend leaves when you or they leave.
It hurts. And it's a deep hurt.
I started listing their names, starting in kindergarten and I got to mid-high school when it really hurt. And my eyes started swelling. I couldn’t type past my best friend from high school’s name because honestly, I never really mourned that it ended. Can you think of friendships that sound like that? Did you lock those feelings in a box and slide them under the bed? Yeah, me too.
Friendships were designed by God. I truly believe that. God has this beautiful way of joining two kindred spirits in friendship. Look at this in 1 Samuel 18:1 between David and Jonathan (Saul’s son).
“After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.”
They became one in spirit. One. Often times in our Christian culture we equate marriage as the end-all personification of our relationship with the Lord. But throughout scripture, we see some radically loving and committed friendships. Elisha and Elijah. Ruth and Naomi. Moses and Aaron.
And this idea of becoming one in spirit comes from a place of loving someone as you love yourself.
I looked through the list of best friends and honestly, I don’t feel the same for most of them that I do now. I know that sounds harsh, but I think it’s also reasonable.
Distance. Time. Assumptions. Pain. Insecurities. Separate Growth. Worldviews.
The logic of the separation of two hearts makes sense on paper. But life is not an arrangement of letters and spaces on a piece of paper.
Life is messy. And relationships require grace as a fuel to keep going. And when one side does not give grace, friendships hit a fast track to an off-ramp.
I look over this list of now women and men and find myself more sentimental than crushed. Two of the names crawled during naptime in kindergarten with me as we chased boys we had crushes on. One of the names sat away from everyone during recess and told me that her dad hit her mom sometimes. A few of the names were the first friends to tell me to my face that I could be “annoying and that’s okay … just try to be less annoying,” and they didn’t stop being my friend. A couple of the names would sit in our favorite teacher’s classroom during freshman year of high school and draw and laugh and illegally use our phones. One of those names helped lead me to Christ. One of the names already mentioned was the first person I got to lead to Christ. One of the names had the funniest laugh, it was contagious, I'm smiling just remembering it. One of the names sang the most beautiful song at her grandmother’s funeral. I can still hear it. One of those friends I was up on the phone with every night reassuring each other we would not fail out of our AP classes. One of those friends helped me walk out of an eating disorder I struggled with. One friend helped me learn how to share about my faith to people I just met. One of those friends was such a freakin’ fun friend and introduced me to everyone in college. One of those friends thought I was positively beautiful and was the first to see me in a way that I think God sees me. One of those friends did everything with me, I can’t think of a college memory she was not in. One of those friends let me sit in his car almost every night and externally process about every feeling and thought I had. One of those friends shared the depths of her heart while kayaking on the lake with me. One of those friends pushed me to go after being a better photographer and a better friend. One of those friends was the older spiritual sister I always wanted. One of those friends was so patient with me as I processed how to stick up for myself and love people at the same time. And the last name on the list… well, let’s just say I would marry him again in an instant.
I think it’s okay that I hadn’t intentionally thought about some of those people in years.
It’s okay that parts of me still ache when I share the most impactful thing about each best friend.
It’s okay if I cry after I finish writing this and really process that some of them are gone from my life forever.
And I think it’s okay if I text the ones who aren’t gone or who maybe are a little more distant and just say, “thank you for being so important to me.”
Because God uses friendships to refine us. He brings people into our life to compliment or sharpen our weaknesses.
He always uses people to make us better lovers of people.
If you look back at the deeper sentiments behind each of my “one of those friends…” statements you will see a trail of how God was shaping me into this Jesus-serving, fierce people loving, eager to help, (sometimes) quick to listen, artistic, dork of a friend.
Maybe when God was thinking me into existence He saw that same list of people who were going to shape me into this woman. And part of that shaping required some of them leaving to make room for others who would share a heart with me and shape me in different ways.
Job 1:21b says, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."
If you’re hurting from a loss of a friendship God sees your hurt.
Tell Him about it. Write it down in a journal. Write a lament (we have a blog coming up soon about those and how to process through losses). And pray for that friend.
A dear friend told me that “we are called to people, not to places.” And when we are called to someone we feel burdened for them. So if you feel burdened for a former best friend, pray for them. Every time you think of them. Don’t just check in on them on social media. Pray for them. Lift them up and surrender them to the Lord. And maybe thank God for allowing them in your life to teach you what you needed to learn.
After all, we all belong to Him before He lets us belong to each other.