Finding Your Footing When Friendships Change

Author: Jenna Anderson | @mrsjenna_anderson

I waited 34 years to be married and start a family. During my unexpectedly long years as a single person, I was blessed by the friends that God provided. My tribe withstood long distances as I served as a missionary overseas. They sent care packages, emails with anecdotes from home, and helped me through the bumpy transition of moving back to America. Isolated in an African village, their friendship carried me through very dark days and filled my life with a deep richness. These women have always been a constant reminder of the gift of belonging, extended grace, and shared strength. As I look back on the last decade, I can’t imagine it without each of them. The memories we share are priceless and precious.

When I got married to my handsome husband three years ago, these same women were there to celebrate and cheer me on. It was an amazing season of fulfilled promises and having strong community made it that much sweeter. I was launched full-hearted into the land of Newlywedded bliss and soon discovered the miracle of a little one on the way. In one fell swoop I had gone from a faith-filled single woman to a wife and soon-to-be mama. The Honeymoon vibes were strong with a healthy dose of morning sickness on the side for good measure. Change was upon me, a whole lot of it. Change that was beautiful and prayed for and all around messy too. It was about six months in when my head stopped spinning from all of the goodness and transition. I looked up to realize that the vast changes in my life had had a ripple effect. My friendships were just not the same.

Invites were few and far between, social media mocked my lack of life, and I longed to be connected in community. As I felt friendships somehow slipping away, I knew it made sense. I too had given my newlywed friends space when they got married. I assumed that they needed time and distance to enjoy their honeymoon days. Frankly, I don’t think that was wrong. However, as I settled into marriage and embraced my ever changing pregnant self, I ached for friends. I knew I had to have them. My desire to be a great wife and mom would mean I needed support. I was desperate for the wisdom and wit of my female friends. I needed listening ears and people who knew me deeply and still loved me. Beyond that, I wanted to be good friend. I love loving people and knew that without soul-level relationships I wouldn’t truly be me. But there I was displaced and sad and lonely.

After a silly stint of feeling sorry for myself and relationally confused, I decided I needed to do something about it. I leaned into Jesus and asked Him to show me His heart for me and my relationships. Casting aside my insecure heart, I let Him in. Yes, my friendships had changed in light of my life circumstances, but that wasn’t the end. Jesus gave me new eyes to see. In humility I reconnected with dear friends and openly expressed my need and desire to reengage. I caught up on their lives and started to invest again. It wasn’t always easy admitting my need to be included and seen, but it was necessary. Instead of mourning the loss of relationships as they were, I chose to dive into new versions of these treasured friendships with hope, grace, and understanding.

Looking back, I can see that my own feeling of disconnect gave me eyes to see others in the same boat. New friendships were sparked and beautifully deepened as I took my eyes off of myself. When I look at the landscape of my friendships today, I am thankful for the relational shake-up. Though it took effort and a vulnerable heart, the friendships that remain are deeper and more beautifully intentional then before.

For better or for worse, friendships change. If you’re anything like me, the jarring sense of disconnection can leave you unnecessarily wounded and weary. But sister, it doesn’t have to go that way. Take a deep breath and breathe in your worth. You have more value than you can imagine and are worthy of friendship. You were created to have friends and BE a good friend. Friendship that helps you grow into a better version of yourself. Friendship that carries you as you carry others. Friends who see the truest version of you on days where your view is distorted. The world needs you to be that kind of friend too. There might be refreshed versions of longtime friendships or brand new connections to be had when you least expect it. Extend grace in seasons of change and choose to invest in the women around you. It’s sincerely worth it.

Whitney ParnellComment