On Grief and Friendships

Someone posed the question at GriefShare: Do you think grief re-writes your address book?

I love the trees when their leaves are gone. They point to the beauty around them, birds nests, sunrises, sunsets, blue skies and gray skies. They also reveal damage from parasites and damaged limbs that need to be removed. Photo credit: Me 3/1/2018 7:34 a.m. headed out on a morning walk.

We used to sing this song in Girl Scouts, “Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.” Grief changes you, it changes your relationships. We tend to view friendships as either forever or failures but God places people in our lives for a season and seasons change. Old and new are both treasures!

I used to think that friendship was give and take. That the people I’ve been there for would be the people that were there for me, but that’s not always the case. God is dynamic and so are our relationships.

I think He places people in our lives for a purpose. We remember those who have been there for us in the past fondly but there is no obligation, you don’t owe them, they don’t owe you. As a follower of Christ you realize that we are obedient to Christ’s calling in our lives. When he shows a need, a place we can serve others, our obligation is to honor Him by serving others. Friendships based on debt don’t work. I can like you, I can think fondly of you, but I can’t keep score of kindness offered and treat it as a debt to be paid nor expect any kindness I’ve extended to be repaid. I can only grow from it and pay it forward. Kindness makes both the giver and receiver better.

Sadly no caption needed! Gardening and photo credit … me.

I think He places people in our lives for a season. When a deep freeze hits in the winter some plants do not survive, some are permanently damaged, some bounce back. Plants require different kinds of care in different seasons and we’re like that too. Sometimes we need more water than others, sometimes we need fertilizer, sometimes we need constant attention to rescue us from the brink of death, sometimes we don’t survive and sometimes we thrive. But none of the seasons are forever. They may seem like forever when you’re in them, they may last longer than we want, but they always change.

The rings in a tree tell us about the climate and atmosphere throughout the trees life, no year is the same. Photo credit: stolen from the internet https://www.the-scientist.com/reading-frames/opinion-tree-rings-as-soothsayers-67130

I remember growing up my dad used to burn the lawn in the early spring. It was fun getting to catch the grass on fire and keep it in check with the water hose but it left our yard black and dead looking and horrible. But then it came back so beautiful with all the bad stuff burned away. I still look at pampas grass and think, “That would look so much better if it were burned in the spring.” The pain in our lives also breeds new life, sometimes we have to be burnt to be beautiful.

to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

Isaiah 61:3

I think we get into trouble when we expect things from a relationship that only God can provide. It’s in our relationship with God that we can survive and thrive with ourselves. Time alone with God fills a need only God can fill. When we expect that unconditional love, acceptance and grace from humans, we will be disappointed. Everything outside of God is temporary. You can survive the loss of a spouse, a child, a friend, a parent, a grandparent because God never abandons you. You can ignore him but that doesn’t impact His existence. We tend to look at other’s loss and think, “I don’t know how you could survive that loss.” The truth is neither does the survivor. You survive by putting one foot in front of the other and every day choosing to move forward.

I think that is living in light of eternity. When we live knowing that the only constant relationship is with our creator we can put our other relationships into perspective. We can see our spouse, children, siblings, parents and friends as the gifts from God that they are. Treasures for the time we have them. Time isn’t the only measure of the depth of a relationship. A spouse lost after a few years or 62 years is still a huge loss. A child lost at a couple of minutes or 70 years is still devastating. Depth isn’t quantified just by time.

I heard one time, I wish I could remember where, that we have 30 seconds to respond to a prompting from the Holy Spirit. If you don’t act on it within 30 seconds you’ll either forget or talk yourself out of it. I don’t know if the 30 seconds is accurate but I know that when you have that idea, action is required – act now! It could mean the world to someone else, it could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship, it could be kindness from a stranger that makes their day better and it will definitely leave you better! Let God be the author of your address book.

One thought on “On Grief and Friendships

  1. Great thoughts about two journeys that intertwine, grief and friendship. I never really related to friends as seasons but it is so true. I loved the fact that just because we leave the closeness of a friend after the change of a season, it is not a negative. Keep up the great work! ❤️

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