As I have gotten older, I have realized that relationships have an ebb and flow to them. Sometimes, you get friendships that are long-term: you both give and take, confront when necessary, and fight to keep the relationship healthy. Other times, relationships are great for a season and then they fall apart. The latter can leave you angry, hurt or questioning what went wrong. These are never fun feelings and can sometimes take months or years to reconcile within ourselves. The Lord has taught me lessons through all the changes I have walked through, and I have come to realize that in his goodness and divine plan, there is a season for everything.
Most of the time, when a relationship drastically changes, one of three things happen. One, you realize it was time for a change and recognize the Holy Spirit’s plan to move you in different directions. This is the easiest and best situation. Two, you blame the other person and focus on everything you think they did wrong. This can lead to gossip, unresolved anger, and/or resentment. Three, you blame yourself and overanalyze what happened. You want to fix it, but you don’t know how, so you sit and think through every conversation and interaction. You try to figure out how things changed to the point of ending and end up blaming yourself when that might not be the case.
I find myself in the third category every single time something changes in a relationship. I personally beat myself up and overanalyze until I am exhausted. Thankfully, in the Lord’s loving kindness, he has begun showing me that he moves people in and out of our lives. It is natural to have long term friendships and and seasonal friendships. Looking back, I can see how the Lord used short term relationships in my life to encourage, build up, and strengthen one or both of us involved, but there was a reason and a time for that relationship to end. There may have been hurt caused by one or the other person, but the Lord has always used the situation to teach and guide me in other relationships.
Ecclesiastes 3 talks about there being a time for everything. Verse 1 says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” There is a time for a friendship to be established, and sometimes, there is a time for it to end and for both parties involved to move in separate directions. It does not mean that it will be easy, but when you are walking in tune with the Lord, he will be your comforter, and he often points out parts of his plan to make it less painful. There will always be a lesson learned in those relationships and memories to hold on to. If you keep reading in Ecclesiastes 3, verses 6-8 says, “a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”
Though we recognize that the Lord has established a time for everything, we still mourn when a relationship ends. The mourning can come in the form of deep sadness, hurt or anger, but it is always there. When we are going through the negative emotions of a relationship changing its course, we can look to Psalm 34 to find comfort and to cry out to the Lord.
“I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”Psalm 34:1-10
When we find ourselves struggling to move past the changes in a relationship, crying out to the Lord is the best solution. Through seeking him, we can discover changes that need to be made in ourselves and we can also find comfort. He wants to stretch us and teach us. When relationships change, this is the best way for the Lord to work within us to produce positive change. As Psalm 34 states, when we seek the refuge of the Lord, we lack nothing. He will enhance other relationships, send new ones, or become what we need in the moment—we will never be without.
No matter the circumstances, we must realize that we were put here on purpose and with the goal of serving and promoting Christ to those around us. This is the whole reason for relationships. We are to build each other up in Christ and point each other to the freedom found in him. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 is a great verse to comfort and point us back to what we are called to do:
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”2 Corinthians 4:16-18
We must set our eyes on Christ and trust in him to provide answers for the changing of relationships. We learn from our mistakes. We learn from the mistakes of others, and then we move on, knowing that in all things, the Lord is sovereign and will make all things work together for our good and ultimately for his glory. We must not lose heart, and we must trust that our inner self is being renewed by the changing and flexing.
In every relationship I’ve had that came to an end, I’ve experienced pain. I have spent countless hours reflecting and praying over them. However, I always end up handing them over to the Lord and asking him to teach me through the change and help me to lean on him instead of obsessing over the ending. He is faithful and always does just that. There are times when I start to try and pick the situation apart again. Thankfully, my husband and the Holy Spirit are both quick to remind me that I have handed it over to the Lord and it’s time to move on.
When you find yourself faced with a changing relationship or one that is coming to an end, I pray you seek counsel in God’s Word and hand that relationship over to the Lord. Ask him to show you things to work on for next time and ways you can pray for the person as you shift into a new season, and then, give it completely over to him and don’t pick it back up. You don’t want to get into the habit of blaming yourself or gossiping about the other person. Let’s all remember the words of Ephesians 4:29, which says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” We must build up each other and ourselves, and put our trust in the Lord.
- Spend time reading through Psalm 34. How can you use this psalm to worship God in your changing situation? Take time to write out the verse that speaks the most to your situation and memorize it.
- Take a quiet moment to sit down and pray for the relationship that is changing or has changed. How can you specifically pray for that person? Pray that the Lord helps you to see the good that came from your time together and to see lessons that can be learned. Spend a few minutes each time they come to mind praying for them and asking the Lord to keep your thoughts positive and to see them the way that he does.
- Call a friend and invite them to lunch. Put a card for them in the mail or ask them to go grab a cup of coffee. Cultivate the relationships the Lord has placed in your life and pray that you both build each other up in him.
- Grab a note card and draw or write out 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. Place it somewhere you will see it often, and read it when you need encouragement.
- Journal prompt: How have you seen relationships change over the last few years? Looking back at the changes, where do you see the hand of the Lord moving and shifting each of you? What lessons were learned and how can you apply them to your current relationships?
Image Credit: Emilee Carpenter