When our kids were young, we purchased a travel trailer so we could go camping and create family memories. We took vacations with other families camping together in various states. We were part of a homeschool group where we enjoyed camping weekends together. The kids ran and played outdoors while the parents sat around the campfire enjoying coffee and fellowship. We used that trailer for many, many years and it was a blessing. Until it wasn’t.
Once our season shifted, what was once a blessing became a frustration. It no longer worked. As our kids grew up, they weren’t available for family camp trips. The bunk bed layout was no longer needed and instead took up valuable space. The platform that our bed was up on required climbing up and down at night that my body no longer needed!
It was a new season and with it, new needs and issues.
So it is in our lives as we shift from one season to another. Relationships that were once a blessing and instrumental in our lives, may shift as our life cycle move us from one season to another.
That can be painful…especially when we desperately try to hold onto something that is no longer working.
I’m not saying that we toss away friendships just because we shift seasons. Not at all. I am saying that we need to recognize there are times that God sometimes moves us out of relationships or that they naturally fade.
When we fight to stay in a relationship that is actually part of a former season, we are exerting energy needed for our new season. We need to recognize that some relationships won’t go the distance…and that’s okay. Like our trailer, which was a huge blessing for many years, when we tried to make it work in the season we are currently in, it created extreme frustration. We needed to let it go.
Are you in a relationship from a former season that is no longer working? (I’m not talking about marriages here.) Here are three important steps to determine what to do:
This is always our first step. Ask the Lord for His plan and wisdom regarding the relationship. If we ask for wisdom, He said He would give it. Relationships are important, so bring him into the conversation.
Where are your places of connectivity? Are there any? If there are now no places of common interest or connection, it is probably time to move on. When my husband and I went through a major shift in our lives several years ago in which we changed churches and also were no longer homeschooling it changed the majority of our relationships. We didn’t make that decision intentionally, but the places of connectivity were no longer there. As we made new friends at our new church and other areas of interest, we naturally invested more time with them. We no longer saw our friends from our previous church at their church functions and they didn’t invite us to social gatherings with the homeschool group. Why? Because we were no longer homeschooling. The relationships just naturally shifted and became less prominent. It was hard, but it was a natural shift.
There a few relationships in my life that although I have little interaction with the individual in our daily lives, I have chosen to remain connected. These are relationships of many years in which the value of the individual and depth of friendship makes that decision a no brainer. Because our lives don’t have natural places to connect regularly, we work at scheduling coffee dates, lunch dates and phone calls to stay connected and invested in each other’s lives. It takes more work to make these relationships stay vibrant. Because of that, it’s not possible to do this with every relationship, but it is important to do it with some. Determine who those people are and keep them close.
When I look at job applications, I am always surprised at the individuals who list references with people they have only known only a year or less. I’ve reviewed many which have no relationships of significant time of five, ten or more years. I find that both sad and shocking. Our friendships shouldn’t continually shift, if so that’s another issue. But they may cycle.
Recognize those cycles which are determined by seasons and realize that some relationships aren’t forever. They are simply a gift for that season.
Other relationships may be gifts for life, but require work if they are to remain. We will have both types in our lives. It is up to us to recognize the shifts of seasons and relationships and cherish the gifts of each season. For one day, as our lives cycle, we may find that those precious relationships are part of the past and need to be willing to move on when seasons change to embrace the new. And it’s okay.