Back in the day when I was in high school, typical of teenagers, we thrived in challenging authority. We didn’t like prefects much. They seemed to be the party poopers who were supposed to have been on the students’ side but were instead ‘goody-too-shoes’. Even your closest buddy, roommate etc. seemed to take the job a bit too seriously once elected as prefect! Then one Friday morning all the students are sitting in the assembly hall and the list of new prefects is called out, lo and behold your name is among them. Well, you are happy to be recognized for your leadership qualities and be placed in that position but those nice thoughts are interrupted by some sadness because deep down you realize it is not going to be easy with your peers. So how do you enforce rules that you yourself have been previously culpable of breaking? The first school trimester would be dreadful but somehow eventually, water finds it’s balance. Most friends would come around but then for few, the relationship would never be the same. So as a prefect you had the option of turning a blind eye to the ‘vices’ of your friends, or stand firm and explain to them that you could no longer be part of such due to your new responsibilities and the fact that the senior/ outgoing prefects would be watching us the junior prefects like hawks. Many times I wished my friends would understand the fact that, am really also trying to understand the new role, manage expectations and still maintain the friendship with them. I wished they wouldn’t undermine my authority to see ‘what she can do’ by out rightly breaking rules in my presence. It often felt like they wanted me to prove my friendship while they, not so much holding their end of the bargain, else they’d not put me in that position. But then, that was also me before I made prefect.
And such is life, in high school it is being named prefect, at work it is getting a promotion and in life it is getting a baby, getting married etc. Life’s circumstances change. Recently I watched an episode of the TV Series, Trophy Wife which is about a happy go lucky girl who gets married to a 2 times divorcee who lives with his three children from the previous marriages. The girl went from having her greatest concerns being which club to hit next, to teenage tantrums not to add organizing a home of 5. In this particular episode they had a fall out with her best friend who couldn’t understand why her friend was all of a sudden not as much fun anymore since she got married. The best friend initially refused to acknowledge her friend’s changed priorities. Well eventually they make up and there is a happy ending.
Unfortunately it is not always the case in real life. I’ve heard of friendships that permanently got severed after one person got married. A good marriage counselor will warn you about it during the pre-marital counselling. They will tell you that you are about to embark on a journey that not all your friends will go with you. For sure it is one of the most difficult thing you might ever have to do — letting friends go. But you know what, do not feel guilty about it and even most important, don’t hold it against them. By all means this doesn’t mean one goes dismissing all their old friends. Old is gold and this seems especially true when it comes to friendships. I believe even the person whose circumstances change has an obligation to maintain some level of communication and create time whenever possible – you know, try maintaining a healthy balance. In case of marriage however, whenever there is conflict between the 2 worlds, your priority should always be your spouse, no matter how unreasonable you may feel he or she is being.
I love the words of TD Jakes regarding this issue. Here is some tough advice to anyone who ever lost a friend or is struggling with a relationship because their circumstances changed and inadvertently, so did your priorities.
Let Them Go by T.D. Jakes
There are people who can walk away from you. And hear me when I tell you this! When people can walk away from you, let them walk. I don’t want you to try to talk another person into staying with you, loving you, calling you, caring about you, coming to see you, staying attached to you. When people can walk away from you let them walk. Your destiny is never tied to anybody that left. The Bible said that, “They came out from us that it might be made manifest that they were not for us. For had they been of us, no doubt they would have continued with us.” [1 John 2:19] People leave you because they are not joined to you. And, if they are not joined to you, you can’t make them stay. Let them go. And it doesn’t mean that they are a bad person, it just means that their part in the story is over. And you’ve got to know when people’s part in your story is over, so that you don’t keep trying to raise the dead. You’ve got to know when it is dead. You’ve got to know when it is over. Let me tell you something. I’ve got the gift of goodbye. It is the tenth spiritual gift. I believe in “goodbye”. It is not that I’m insensitive or uncaring, it is that I trust. I know whatever and whomever God means for me to have and be a part of my life He will give. And, if a relationship takes too much sweat I don’t need it. Stop begging people to stay. Let them go!!