Or, we don’t actually lose them, but they keep us at bay. They chat with us on Facebook, and by the things we share, it seems like nothing has changed. You run into them in public, and you exchange the customary hug (before COVID sadly) and life seems good. Then, you invite them to do something and BAM … there it is. The awkwardness kicks in … the pause … the ‘no response’ … the “I will get back with you” but they never do. Why is this? How do people see me now that I have gained a relationship with Christ? Am I really that different?
All of this reminds me of several friends from my past. All a crucial part of my life at one time, and all keeping me at bay. One friend in particular comes to mind. This someone has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. They are very dear to my heart, and I miss them terribly. As with many others, they have left me by the wayside since I am no longer living their lifestyle. They would never admit to this, but it is so.
In dwelling on this as I woke this morning, I held a conversation in my head with My Friend and this is how it went.
I imagine that My Friend and I accidentally stumble upon one another in public as we often do, and we exchange the customary pleasantries when they say to me:
My Friend: “Is your cell phone number the same? I will give you a call.” At this I had to chuckle because normally it is me extending the invitations; however, I made up my mind after our last exchange that I would not do that anymore. Their lack of interest, them not responding to text messages, and them never returning my calls makes me sad and it hurts. Therefore, I had decided that I would not open myself up to that anymore.
Me: Chuckling, I respond, “Yep, same number I have had for years. Don’t tell me you are actually thinking of using it?”
My Friend: “Why are you laughing?”
Me: “I am laughing because you know as well as I do that you will never call, you will never accept the invites to my home that I send you, and you will never reach out to me. The only time I will see you again is when we by chance run into one another as today.” An awkward pause when I again chime in, “Why is that?”
My Friend: Nervously, they respond, “I don’t know. I just think things have changed between us.” BAM, there it is!
Me: ”Changed? I have not changed. Have you changed?”
My Friend: “No, I haven’t changed, but aren’t you religious now?” Now we are getting to the heart of the matter.
Me: “No, I am not religious but I am a Christian. I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, in the same way I thought you and I had a personal relationship. How does my Christianity change us? How do you see me?”
My friend just stands there at a loss for words, so I continue on: ”I still love the same things that brought us together in the first place. I still love adventure. I still love camaraderie and being with my friends. I still love spontaneity. I still love cookouts with horseshoes (cornhole now) and great food. I still love dancing. I still love to shoot pool. I still love all sorts of music. I still love to travel. Where have I changed? (Pause) … No, don’t answer that for me, let me answer it for you. I am still the same me except now I am a better version of me. I don’t lie … I don’t play games … I don’t like drama … I don’t gossip … I am not insecure … I am not jealous … I don’t judge … I care about more than myself … I am a better person than I was when we first met. I still make mistakes, and I am far from perfect. But, this ‘Christian’ is whole and free. I am sorry if this makes you uncomfortable because it shouldn’t. I am sorry if this makes me ‘different’ in your eyes, but I want to be different because I did not particularly care for the old version of me, and if you were honest with yourself, there was a lot about me that you did not like either. When you decide to really see the new me and see that I am still the same person but only healthier, then you give me a call. I am anxiously waiting because I care about you … the same as always. I am a better friend than I ever was then.” With that I walk away.
Is this how you have been treated? Why do people see us differently? When I look back at who I was before becoming a Christian, I am only more thankful and appreciative that I found Christ. I was not a nice person. I was really messed up, and I made some pretty bad mistakes in life. This new version of me is the best it gets.
I am sure I will never hear from that friend. I am sure that I will not hear from many of my friends except through Facebook, but this is okay with me today. I miss them. I so desire to be closer to them, but we all go through seasons in life. Maybe our season is over with and I should just cherish what we had. I will always pray for them and hold them dear in heart. For me, my door will always be open, but I have learned in life that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.
Have a blessed day!