I don’t convince people to remain in my life. I don’t try to convince them to stay when they decide it’s time to walk away and I never turn leaving into a long drawn out emotional process. I simply accept that their season in my life is over and I let them leave. I know my position may sound cold and maybe even unrealistic, but my life experiences have brought me to this place and I’ve embraced it.
This wasn’t always my stance. Once upon a time I wanted people to like me, to genuinely like me and see me for the wonderful person, I think I am. So, I would work hard not to offend anyone and if someone pointed out a flaw in my character I immediately got to working on it so I’d be the type of person they could like. The problem with that though is how tedious it was. I could never catch a break because every time I “fixed” something or changed something, someone would point out something new that they didn’t like and I’d have to fix that too. God forbid somebody tried to leave me in the midst of “becoming a better person”, I would be devastated and depressed. That all changed a few years ago.
I had a friend that I loved dearly. She and I were friends for 17 years and we did everything together. I thought it was a perfect friendship; a space where I could be me and not worry about being judged or misinterpreted. I shared my joys, my sorrows, my shame, everything with this person. I let my guard down completely and I figured this would have been my best friend forever! Imagine my surprise and pain when one day I got an email from *Sandy highlighting everything she thought was wrong with me over the past 17 years and her analysis of how terrible a person she thought I was. I literally broke down. I was shattered and I believed every word she’d written because she was the person I thought knew me best. Words can’t explain the devastation and guilt I felt after reading that email. At that point, I decided it would be best if I let Sandy walk away because I was no good for her and she would be better off without such a terrible person in her life (me).
In devastation, I sprinted in God’s direction and I prayed, and prayed, and prayed to God for forgiveness for my wrong ways. I got up every morning and asked God to heal my friend’s heart before attending to mine because I genuinely believed I was wrong and that I’d been a terrible friend. That continued for a while and it wasn’t until about 2 weeks later that God responded and showed me who HE thought I was. He reminded me of my growth and my heart for others and my intention behind my actions. It was only then that I realised that people will always have an opinion of me but that doesn’t mean they’re right. People will always want to leave for one reason or another but other people will come and life will go on.
That’s why I don’t fight to keep people around and I don’t force friendships or relationships to work. When the time is up I accept it, I embrace it and I allow life to continue harmoniously. Goodbyes are a necessary part of life and I embrace them. I allow them to happen and I respond graciously because I’ve accepted that some people are a part of my life for a season and when that season is over I can accept it and say a gracious goodbye or I could prolong it and risk the relationship turning into a toxic, bitter space riddled with resentment and regret. For me, I’ll always say a gracoious goodbye and leave room for the possibility of rekindling what we’ve let go of if we so choose later on in life.