Johnna Myers is a friend of mine from church. Not only is she wise, but she loves freedom just like I do and may be more enthusiastic than me. I’m thankful for her words. She blogs at JohnnaMyers.com.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”
Seasons—they are no joke people. We have coffee drinks, candles, and even Spotify playlists depending on the time of year. And as we peek onto the horizon of an Indiana winter, it is not an exaggeration that I will be wrapped in multiple layers, fuzzy socks, a hooded sweatshirt for the next 5 months. And then in January, I will ask my husband the same question I do EVERY January… “WHY DO WE LIVE HERE?!?”
Through the years, I have noticed seasons in my friendships as well. Seasons that come and go…maybe for months or years at a time…maybe they come with the smell of fresh air and bright-colored flowers…or maybe they go with a strong gust of bitter, arctic air.
When I was first out of college, my sorority sisters were my circle. Riding the wave of independent adulthood, we spent many nights reminiscing about frat parties and stupid decisions we had made.
Then life as a newlywed was spent hanging out with my husband’s co-workers and their spouses. Having the same work schedule and no kids made spontaneity our jam.
Then came motherhood. Oh gosh—the ever amazing, exhausting stage of being a new mom. I was so desperate for conversation with an adult, that I didn’t care if my friends talked ALL day about diapers and sleep schedules. Because we had a lot in common, most of my relationships at this time consisted of other new moms—blurry eyed and sleep deprived new moms who didn’t judge me for forgetting to brush my teeth.
When the girls were elementary age, we grew close to the moms of their friends and spent weekends at school carnivals and swimming in neighborhood pools. It was convenient for sure, but we also just enjoyed spending time with people in a similar life stage.
Sports friends were next…literally “seasonal” friends….spending weeknights and most weekends at softball and soccer fields, bonding together on the hard, metal bleachers. All to say goodbye after the last game, knowing you won’t see them again until the next first pitch.
Along the way, my life has been woven together with other people as well—church ladies, gym rats, and partners in ministry. And although there are ones who are a consistent, lifetime thread in the fabric of my life, others were only there for a season.
For years, I thought it was my duty to hold on to each and every friendship, maintaining a certain level of depth and closeness. It was a heavy burden to try and keep up and an unreal expectation to think that I could manage every.single.relationship I’d ever been in. I had to let go of the idea that every friendship is forever, and embrace the idea that changing seasons are good.
As I have gotten older, though, my circles have gotten smaller. I’m no longer desperate to cling to just any warm body who can hold a conversation, and no longer desiring to dive deep with absolutely everyone. I recognize that life changes. Values change. People move on to pursue new endeavors. People move to other communities and a 30 minute drive seems like forever. But if there’s anything God is teaching me, it’s that every stage of friendship has served a purpose. Every stage has taught me more about who I am and what’s important. And with each one, I am learning to hold it loosely in my hand, knowing that the Lord may intend it only for a short time. And I am learning that it’s okay to say goodbye.
The next part of that Ecclesiastes verse says “…a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot…a time to tear down and a time to build…a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing…”
Friendships will be born, and they will die. Some will have roots that go deep and others only stay on the surface. Sometimes you will build into a relationship, and sometimes you need to just cut it off. And as I’m starting to learn, some friendships are ones you purposefully run and throw your arms around….and others are ones where you intentionally keep your distance.
Now that our girls are older, I have the freedom to choose who I hang out with. I can be intentional about who I want to pour into, and who I want to pour into me. I want to be a good steward of the relationships the Lord has entrusted me with, and I want each one to point people to Jesus. So as you consider your current season of life, look for ways to serve your friends and learn from them. Love them well, but know that they are not yours forever. For just as quickly as the Indiana weather can change, so too can the seasons of our lives.