No New Friends?
If you're anything like me then you're something like an emotional hoarder. I mean, I hoard so badly that if there was a way to measure how much of an emotional hoarder a person is, I'm sure I would need an intervention. I've always held on to people - through simple things like cards, and notes, and messages in old notebooks, to instant messages and old emails- YOU NAME IT, I'VE KEPT IT. I've kept pictures of people I no longer speak to, and no longer even particularly like, just so that I can remember that they were a part of my life. Don't talk about pictures....I have virtual albums of people who are no longer active or significant to my current life, just so that I never forget it all. If I wasn't a designer I'd probably be a scribe because I've written down and kept record of things people have said to me from years ago. Even people who have done me wrong, I just can't seem to cut the heart strings. I anesthetize the wounds by remembering the past through rose colored filters, glorifying memories of good times that hardly existed. Now that I'm writing it, maybe I do need an intervention ! ( Pauses writing blog post to DELETE STUFF).
Recently though, in addition to people from my past that I've held on to, I've had to deal with God purging people out of my current circles. This has been particularly hard for me because I find it so hard to just LET GO. Some of the people being purged aren't necessarily even bad people; the season for their input in my life or my input in theirs has just passed.
As I'm on the topic of passing seasons, I think that this is one of the major life lessons that I've come to apprehend. The fact that God has brought the season for interaction with a particular person in your life to an end does not mean that the person is somehow beneath you. It could simply mean that your futures do not develop in compatible directions. It is wise to appreciate their value as a person, and wish them well on the new path on which God is also taking them, as He takes you on your unique journey.
Oftentimes our hesitation to emotionally clean house is linked to fear; fear of being alone, fear of being insignificant, fear of losing our power in other people's lives (yeah I said it!Some of us are controlling and we don't even know it!) It could also betray our insecurities and our penchant for seeking identity through our relationships with others and not within Christ Himself. It can also betray a lack of faith in God to provide the best associations for us at each new level to which He takes us. New friends mean new adjustments, and sometimes this involves severing ourselves from limiting mindsets and destructive habits. Some of us want "no new friends" because it allows us to remain as we are, with no fresh eyes to challenge our perspectives or to push us to go beyond that to which we've grown accustomed.
When I read about Abram in the Bible, and how the Lord uprooted him from all the people that were dear to him (with the exception of his wife)- his family members, his home town and friends, to take him to a new place and level in Him, I marvel. That must not have been easy. In fact, it was probably terrifying for Abram to leave his comfort zone. What follows, however, is so encouraging! Abram goes on to be counted righteous before God for his faith in God's provision for his future and later became the Abraham whose name has been venerated for generations hence. I wonder what would have happened if he never let go and moved on? He would have probably continued to live a safe, uneventful, spiritually insignificant life, and we probably would never have heard of him.
A little caveat here while I'm on the subject; Abram took Lot with him toward the new land to which he was called. Some of us want to obey God three quarter way and still hold on to relationships He has called us to sever. The biblical record shows that Lot eventually caused Abram grief and they still had to end up parting ways, just as God told Abram to do in the very beginning. We see that while Abraham journeyed in tents with God continuously present, Lot ended up as one of the chiefs in one of the most sinful towns around- Sodom. We really do not know why God has called us to move away from certain relationships. We simply have to trust that God knows what He is doing.
In these times God is shaking a lot of us out of our comfort zones. For some of us it may be career shifts, or ministry shifts, friendship shifts, or all of the above. We can choose to be emotional hoarders and let our inability to let go to keep us stagnant, or we can trust God, cut the strings, and embrace the unknown. It may seem loyal to hold on to friendships we've had for years, romantic relationships that have become familiar, and family ties that seem inevitable, but if God says that its time for some new friends we better not say otherwise.
My encouragement is this : you can only get to the land that God will show you if you're willing to cut ties with everything you've called "home".