When my mom told me that my friend Amy* was moving away, I immediately started crying. I was 13 years old, and Amy and I had known each other for a long time. We grew up in the same church, we both played soccer, and we attended the same homeschool group. When her older sister came over to babysit me and my sisters, Amy came over too.
Fast forward a few months, and Amy was gone. We didn’t really stay in touch, except for a few texts here and there. It took a while for me to adjust to her absence, but eventually, I found new friends.
Since my friendship with Amy, I’ve had countless friends who have entered and exited my life. Until I went to college (hundreds of miles from home), I didn’t truly understand the reality of having friends for a season. But when I left my hometown and started meeting new people at college, I realized how difficult it was to maintain long-distance friendships with my friends back at home.
My friends from home and I sometimes stayed in touch, but other friendships fell by the wayside. There were no “friend breakups” or anything dramatic like that. But I definitely had to come to terms with the idea that God sometimes brings people into our lives for a season—and when they leave (or we leave), that’s an opportunity to form friendships with new people instead of a reason to throw a pity party for every single friendship that ends.
The Gift of a Long-Term Friendship
Please don’t misunderstand the point of this post—some friendships do last a long time, which is a rare but incredible gift.
I’ve been able to meet up with my friend Nora* multiple times since I graduated from college. Even though we live in different parts of the state, we’ve made it a point to catch up in person. We didn’t really get to know each other until we were finishing up college, but I’ve enjoyed our continued friendship post-college.
I’ve been writing letters to my pen-pal Erin* for over a decade. We’ve only met in person once (a really long time ago!), but I’m planning to go to her wedding in December. She lives 450 miles away, but the distance doesn’t hinder our friendship.
I’ve known Ella* since I was about 10 years old. We went to Awana and youth group together. I was in her wedding right before I went away to college. Although we now live over 500 miles apart, I was able to meet up with her, her husband, and her daughter a couple times last year. We still text each other and keep each other posted on life updates.
And the Reality of Friendships that Last for a Season
The point of this post isn’t to diss long-term friendships or to say that maintaining long-distance friendships isn’t worth the effort. Rather, the point of this post is to encourage you that even though most friendships won’t last a lifetime, we don’t have to mourn those friendships. Rather, we can be thankful for those friendships and prepare for the friendships that God has in store for us now and in the future.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV)
Especially in the church, I feel like we have the following misconception about friendship: a friendship should last a lifetime, and if it doesn’t, that means that (1) I’m not loyal and (2) God is disappointed in my disloyalty. But where did that idea come from? I haven’t found any Bible verses saying that our friendships need to last forever.
I truly believe that God brings some friends into our lives for a specific season for a specific reason. And whether those friendships last for a month or a decade, it’s our responsibility to honor God in those friendships and be grateful for them. Let’s not become so mournful over friendships of the past that we become blind to potential friendships of the present—and the future.