This past year has definitely seen its share of changes. Mostly good. Some hard. Some instant and some over time. My challenge this year has been to focus on the positive, and surround myself with people who support us and make our lives easier. At some point acknowledging the challenges, the losses, and relationships that have changed is good to sit with, grieve, and let go. Not to focus on necessarily, but to sit with, feel, process. For the most part, this has been doable. The hard part is deciding which relationships are worth fighting for, grieving, or letting go.
There are several different groups of people we seem to have in our lives. One group barely batted an eye at us deciding to be together, coming out, and rearranging our lives. They love us no matter what and don’t think anything has changed. There are 2 subsets to this group. The ones who took all the news and change without skipping a beat and fully embrace us. The other subset had questions. Lots and lots of questions at first, but after hearing us, hearing what we’ve already processed, feel, think, are, have been at peace and also fully embrace us.
Then there’s a group who have mostly quietly slipped away from me, mostly as a show of moral disagreement to the choices I’ve made. This is the group that I’ve struggled with this past year but finally realize that I’ve done what needs to be done on my end and all that’s left is a heartfelt goodbye, process the sting of rejection, and then move on. At first I was unsure what to do. At first I thought if I could only explain myself people would understand. But no one asked for an explanation. A frustrating place to be when you feel like it would make sense if you could share, but no one wants to hear. No one wants to give you room to have a story to tell.
Then, I realized that I need to be the bigger person. It’s simple to feel silence and respond with silence back. If you are being rejected, it’s easy to reject them right back. When I was hearing nothing but a deafening silence in their direction, maybe they were simply feeling rejected by me, unsure how I still felt about them. Maybe by reaching out and showing that I still loved them and thought them as family or friends forever, they would take a deep breath, and answer back, Oh I’m so glad, I thought when you walked away, you walked away from all of us. I’m so glad that’s not the case.
Often times, when I am able to wrap my mind around a concept, and it becomes so clear and so plain I wonder why I even ever questioned it, it’s hard to give grace to those who aren’t at the level yet. Give them time to wrap their minds around it. It just takes time. So again I step up and give grace. Lots of grace. Time. Time. Time. But it doesn’t change perspective.
I’ve reached out. I’ve stepped up. I’ve given grace. And I will continue, but at a certain point, you just do the healthy thing and let go. You let go of the idea that you have not been heard, because you never will be. You let go of the idea that they are your friends or family. You let go and know that it’s OK to have someone think poorly of you. It’s OK because there are other people in the world who love you and they don’t think poorly of you. You struggle to keep above that, and insist to yourself that you still have worth. Just as much as before. There are people out there that understand you for who you are and give you grace, just as they need to be given grace. As a Christian, it’s easy to feel judged by other Christians, and to even be at a point where you feel good that they are “overlooking” your “wrongdoings” and extending you grace. But in reality, you are the one who is really giving the grace.
To still want the person in your life who feels like they are above you, or showing tolerance to you, or praying that you will see the error of your ways and perhaps they will be the chosen one to lead you back. These are the people for which grace is actually required and designed for. They don’t know that the wrongs are on their sides, in their minds, and in their actions. I believe God calls me to extend them grace. I give them grace for their distorted thoughts and judgments. The real question is, while you can continue to give grace, do you exhaust yourself with efforts to hold on to that relationship, using up precious energy that could be focused on the good, the love, the wonder of the people who love you?
It’s not new to me to lose people. Perhaps I’ve been more sensitive and everyone experiences it, but growing up in a stable family, in a small town, in a class of 10 people in K-8th-only 1 or 2 newcomers, and very few that left- I didn’t experience much change in family or friendships. College experiences will change that, but in my case it became so ridiculous it was the running family joke. My sophomore year at school I had built a group of close friend of 6. By October, all but myself had dropped out. It was rough. I started over. Then met people. Who left. Dropped out. I started over again. Every person I met was on their way out. At that age it was a struggle. Then after college I was the one who moved around. I became better at meeting people. I grew in these experiences. Where before losing a close friend was devastating and frustrating and I questioned why people left me, I grew to learn that it was OK. I wasn’t going to be able to be that person who still hung out with high school friends, or took vacations with the girls from college. People floated in and out of my life and I learned to embrace them while they were with me, and let them go when it was time for them to float back out. I loved the idea that they came into my life for a reason, and not everyone can stay forever. Some people I try to hold on to from a distance, and when I feel that, I will reach out. I’ve grown used to being the person that reaches out, that holds the relationship until it’s too much work. I’d stopped keeping record of how many times I reached out compared to them reaching out to me. I was happier if I didn’t. I realized that’s my gift, to those who want to but don’t, that I can do that work for us.
This is different. These are lost relationships that don’t come from distance, or growing apart. But from differences in opinions and values. And I’m open to people growing enough to eventually coming closer. I won’t shut people out. But it’s time I am able to open my hand and let the idea of them go. Without anger, or hurt, or frustration, but because it’s time. Maybe it’s really the same. They were there at that point in my life and we served a purpose to each other and that time is over. It’s time to ponder those relationships, let them go, grieve them for a bit, and turn the focus back inward to those that do love and support us. And I know from experience that it’s not really loss, because relationships are always out there, new, waiting, and with new life changes, those people will naturally come in to fill those spots. It’s important to know that this is a chance to rebuild friendships and family and it’s a chance to only gain. I am open to that! This isn’t a lesson in loss. It’s a lesson in appreciating those who have stuck around and are there. It’s a lesson in letting go, peace and grace, and keeping one’s self open to new possibilities. And that’s a wonderful thing.