Friends on the Trail

Steam Team friends 2016 near Rapidan River

I’ve noticed that loss and loneliness often go hand in hand.

To stay the course of cleaning out our home of 20 years before putting the house on the market, I’ve said no to several fun get togethers and adventures this summer.  Spending hours alone in a dusty basement is a recipe for lonely.  Ugh.

I remember 10 years ago feeling lonely as I grieved the deaths of my mom and sister-in-law.  No matter what interactions I shared with people the fog of loss did not lift for many months.  The grieving dominated while I went through the motions of life as best I could.

This loss is different.  I am thankful to not have the intense brain fog, but my mind is noticeably strained with long to do lists and some sadness nonetheless.

While sorting items from our home, I relive memories of friends and family over the years.  Cards, pictures, movie tickets, toys, and journals have resurfaced.

I laugh out loud, snap a picture to capture certain memories before tossing items, and give thanks for the experiences.  I don’t need the fading construction paper from my children’s preschool masterpieces, but I do want a remaining image of their artwork in case I choose to revisit digital pictures that do not require space or dusting in our next home.

I feel lucky for friends in my life whether they are here for a season, reason, or ongoing.  I’ve had time to think about friends and how much they’ve meant to me along life’s trail.  I am reminded to text or email girlfriends I haven’t spoken with in a while.  And close friends who know what’s going on have helped or offered to help in this process.

It’s like I’m in adult time out.

I have long talks with God on my worn path to Goodwill.

Memories made with friends along the trail of life improve my energy.  Oh, and ibuprofen could almost be called a friend at this point too!  Ouch, my muscles hurt.

Sometimes I think when this is over I will spend a week in bed, but I really won’t do that when the time arrives.  I will call a friend and choose an adventure.

friendship proverbs 27 9


I like people, all kinds of people.  I enjoy learning about a variety of backgrounds and experiences.

You might think this would mean that once I have a friend, then we would be friends forever, but that is not reality.

Reality is that some friendships come and go in life…for all kinds of reasons.

One time in college a guy broke up with me because he said I was “too nice”.  He “needs someone more like his mother.”  Interesting.

In my twenties, there was a woman in the office who I nearly worshiped.  I thought she was great and considered naming my unborn child after her (good thing I had a boy).  One day she was done with me and gave me a poem about how friendships are for a season or reason and rarely forever.  Alrighty then.

In my thirties, one week after my mother’s funeral, a girlfriend I loved and trusted gave me an “8 things that have to change about you” list.  Oh boy.  My favorite line item was “you’ll be friends with anybody and that’s not ok with me.”  Absorbed.  Noted.

And now the debacle of 2012, welcome to year one of being in my forties.  Someone I care deeply about misjudged the intentions of a situation.  Kindness was intended, but she did not see it that way.  She got mad.  I offered to listen to her perspective–maybe I’d learn something–but she refused.  This hurts and I suppose she hurts too.  Some relationships can grow stronger after overcoming conflict, but that’s usually not possible if friends refuse to process.

The Bible is clear about what to do when conflict arises:  you go to that person and try to work it out (Matthew 18:15).  And there’s more verses of instruction to follow, but sometimes things have to be given time.  And like the poem (ouch) says, some friendships are not forever. 

You know that movie and book He’s Just Not That Into You?  Well, I think that phrase can apply to realizations we all have about relationships from time to time.

The above examples are from my life, but I imagine you can think of examples from your life.  Yes?  No?  Oh goodness, please don’t tell me I’m alone in these experiences!

Often I witness other rocky relationships and think of a sermon we heard once about Hope Friends and how to identify a Hope Friend. 

Pastor Mecum reviewed Romans 5:1-5.  In those verses you’ll find encouragement regarding the patience and experience you gain when going through tough times.  His sermon focus was that “hope does not disappoint” and you can assess every relationship based on two Hope Friend principles:

1.  Person of Faith – Is your friend a person of faith?  Do they have a faith approach to life?  Do they live beyond what they can see?  Do they hope for the best?

2.  Person of Praise – Is your friend someone who will find ways to praise (be positive) even when times are challenging?  Do they encourage you or bring you down?

If you think of all your friends, how many have both qualities?  It’s eye-opening to think about, isn’t it?  

Then take one more step and assess yourself.  Am I a person who offers faith and praise or do I struggle in one or both areas?  Which area do I need to work on the most?

Perhaps we all struggle in these areas from time to time, but being a Hope Friend despite my flaws is what I aim to be.  And I am grateful for the Hope Friends (and Family) in my life!  Yes, I still have friends believe it or not!

May we all strive to be the best Hope Friends we can.

Blessings to you and yours,