You’re just gonna leave me, so what’s the point?

I’m a sarcastic fellow. A dark fellow. A sad and sickly fellow with a twisted sense of humor that must often be tempered among the sunny masses.

The older I get, the more cynical I’ve grown — or devolved. However you look at it. More and more frequently, I tell myself there’s just no point in reaching out to others, again and again and again, just to maintain a friendship that will ultimately prove fatal.

After all, I’ve been there, done that too many times already. I have too many deleted phone and Facebook contacts to show for it.

You’re just gonna leave me anyway, so what’s the point? Why waste my energy on a friendship that’s not going to last?

When I think about some of my deepest friendships, the ones that changed me the most, I wince. Because they’re also some of my most painful losses.

On the one hand, these one-time friends undeniably shaped me into the man I am today; on the other, their now gaping hole in my life makes me wonder if knowing them in the first place was even really worth it.

How it hurts to no longer say hello to someone who used to hug me long.

In truth, I’m blessed by a handful of friendships that have survived the years. I can’t neglect them in my mad pursuit of the lost and longing.

And yet even among these surviving friendships, I can’t help wondering: how will I mess this up? What will I say, what will I do, or what will simply inevitably be that ruins everything?

My lack of initiative?

My tendency to dwell on darker themes?

My independent spirit and commitment issues and subsequent desires to roam and wander?

I’ve thought a lot lately about past friendships. The storybook moments that revitalized me. And the inconceivable fallings away that nearly broke me.

The tick and the tock. The to and the fro.

The persistent pull toward doom.

Some days, most days, it feels impossible. Friendship. How on earth do you stay friends with someone?

When your life changes or their life changes, or when they move or marry, or when you move or marry, how do you not only stay friends but also grow your friendship without growing too fast or too heavy?

Does anyone go to his grave at 99 with friends at his funeral, friends he’s had his whole life? Do such people exist? Is such an aim even achievable?

I just can’t picture dying at 99 with friends I had when I was 29. My heart can’t imagine that possibility. And it makes the prospect of finding and grooming new friendships all the more daunting.

Regardless, I’m grateful for friends who have stuck by me despite my insatiable longings and unshakable cynicism.

I honestly don’t know why they put up with it — with me. But I thank you, dear friends. Please continue to be patient with me as I learn to see the sunshine in my partly cloudy days.

Forgive me for doubting you and doubting us.

Thank you for lighting my steps — if only for this single fleeting day . . .

  • I dealt with this question for a very long time. The only thing that helped me was going to therapy. In therapy I was able to critically examine my concept of friendship. I was asked to define my “perfect friendship” and then was allowed to explore how my expectations were and weren’t realistic. I was taught new ways of thinking about friends, less critical ways, both about the friends and about myself. I learned some very valuable lessons and began to tear down some of the false images I was trying to live up to. I also learned how to reframe how I viewed an ending or distanced friendship and how to rejoice in the new ones.

    One of my professors and mentors provided a particularly good lesson in friendship that has stuck with me. He was a professor during my first year in Southern California at Hope and I got to know him very well. We bonded, we were similar, we were both from Oregon and had the same sense of humor and came from similar backgrounds. He spoke God’s truth into my life and pushed me to grow. At the end of the year he announced he would be moving back to Oregon and I bawled my eyes out. I was distraught. How could this man who had been such a pillar in my first year experience be leaving? I hadn’t learned enough from him! No one would ever be the same.

    After crying and processing the emotions both on my own and with him, we came to a calm point where we could talk about the reality of it. That’s when he shared a thought that has stuck with me: friendships never really ever go away. Even if they get buried and dusty and go unused, the significance of that friendship still exists in time and space. It is not invalidated just because it has come to a pause. So we have the chance to rejoice in what we had and look forward to what the future might bring.

    Take joy in the friendships you have. Live in the present moment. Continuing to look toward the future and torturing yourself with “what-ifs” won’t do you any good. I find when I am future-focused I’m miserable, but when I take each and every day for what it is, each and every interaction as its own wonderful, beautiful thing, I find life and relationships are far more manageable. It takes a lot to say present focused but when you figure out how to ground yourself, I can assure you you’ll be more content in the day to day.

    (I learned most of this through good therapy, btw).

    Anyway. You’ve got a friend in me, Tom. You’re always welcome in NYC and one of these days I’ll wind my way down to the Carolinas.

  • Dad

    Why did it have to be a friend
    Who chose to betray the Lord
    Why did he use a kiss to show them
    That’s not what a kiss is for

    Only a friend can betray a friend
    A stranger has nothing to gain
    And only a friend comes close enough
    To ever cause so much pain
    Why- Michael Card

    You grew up listening to me listen to Michael Card. “Why” is one of my favorite songs of his. The above verses are insightful. People think that Judas was just a guy that hung out with Jesus, and betrayed him. That sucks, but that was it. Nope. Jesus considered Judas to be a friend…a close friend! And to re-quote those last two lines, “only a friend comes close enough, to ever cause so much pain”. Pain happens in true close friendships!

    To quote the bible,
    To everything there is a season,
    a time for every purpose under heaven:
    2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
    a time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted;
    3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
    a time to break down, and a time to build up;
    4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
    a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
    5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones;
    a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
    6 a time to gain, and a time to lose;
    a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
    7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
    a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
    8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
    a time of war, and a time of peace.
    Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

    The Lord, in His great and infinite wisdom, has determined seasons for everything, including people that intersect our lives. We should be intentional to make the most of the relationships in our life, knowing they they WILL come to an end. Relationships end due to every reason you can think of, and ultimately with the death of you or them. How much we can pour into others, how much we can glean and learn from others, all of this is to help us grow. All of that growth (and the setbacks as well), leading to the ultimate relationship we need to maintain, the one we have with the Lord Himself.

    When pressed at which of the commandments was the greatest, Jesus talked about two, and these two are all about relationships.
    36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40

    Jesus understood/understands that relationship is the key…in effect, it really is everything! Love the Lord like He stated and keep that relationship tight/close/intimate! Love others like we all love ourselves. We want what is best for us. We should want what is best for others…even when that “best” includes some discomfort or even pain.

    Jesus knew as He developed His relationship with Judas that it would ultimately lead to being betrayed and the onslaught of pain that would ensue. He chose to pursue that relationship with Judas, so that we could have relationship with Him.

    Hang in there Tom and embrace and enjoy those in your life now and expectantly look forward to those that will come into your life one day.

    To conclude, I will quote 38 special (southern rock band from the 80’s)
    So hold on loosely
    But don’t let go
    If you cling too tightly
    You’re gonna lose control

    We should always hold loosely in our hand, people (and things) and allow the Lord to dictate what He wants to do with them. If we try to hold on too tightly, we are effectively not allowing the Lord to be in control of our lives and we are in effect, desiring control. When we do that…..we will lose control because no one knows how to run our lives better than the Lord!

    Love you Tom!

  • Eddie

    Like I’ve mentioned before “relationships change.” It is a life lesson we all learn the hard way. Some of us can adapt quickly to this everchanging landscape of relationships. While others struggle including myself. As time marches on, close personal friends have moved, married or matriculated causimg their previous lifestyles to shift with new people and priorities to deal with. I just keep trying to reach out with the hopes something will take root. You said you joined a gym recently? Great, cultivate relationships there. Reach out, but be patient and be wary not to violate gym etiquette.

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