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On Losing Friends

alec vanderboom

I've strained three friendships with my latest pregnancy announcement. I've been down this road before. I lost friends when I joined Carmel and when I had a sick baby in the NICU. There is some sort of pattern with me. Many times when I'm making a big leap forward in spiritual growth, I lose friends.

It's hard for me because this time I really tried to be more authentic while making new friends after our move to West Virginia. I didn't hide myself. I'm pro-life. I'm Catholic. I've got 5 kids already. Why should it come as a shock that I'm adding another new baby to the mix?

I really identify with St. Peter. It's easy for me to make blustery promises to pledge strong devotion to Christ on my own, but ask me to risk one disapproving glance from a friend and I fall to pieces. Vanity is a strong cancer in my heart.

In some ways, it's nice to have the fallout from something so concrete as having a sixth baby. My usual pattern is to collapse into self-doubt in the face of disapproval. I start thinking "What did I do wrong? How did I mess this up? I must be at fault if I've made someone mad at me. I better start apologizing immediately." That's the co-dependent part of me. (It's good to apologize quickly when I've committed a sin towards a friend, but if I start apologizing immediately for the mere fact of living a life different than a friend then that is that start of a slippery slope which always ends in heartache.)

Yesterday, I was chatting with God about the pain of quitting Facebook. I know its the right decision in my gut. I feel the benefits of leaving. And yet.... it hurts.

I expected to just solider on. Losing friends, quitting Facebook, it's all a part of the relentless journey to "Depend solely on God." I've got massive trust issues since birth, so it makes sense for my spiritual journey to be messy and uneven.

Yet God is so merciful, he threw me a bone. Yesterday, while praying for another reason while waiting in the checkout aisle at Target, I ran into someone from our church. I hadn't seen her in a year. We chatted about light stuff. Then it was time for me to pay and leave. When we walked out of Target, I told Jon--that was an answer to a prayer but I don't even remember her name!

It's never easy to leave Target with 5 mobile kids in tow, so while I was protecting my kin from near death in the parking lot I felt consumed by self-judgement. "I'm so stupid. I always do this. I'm too shy to admit that I don't remember someone's name, then I talk to them for 10 minutes, now it's going to be even more awkward to ask for their name the next time I see them."

Then four parking spaces down from me, I saw her. God had given me a second chance. I returned my shopping cart and rushed over to her car. I was brave and asked for a lunch date. I left with her full name and telephone number!

It was just a little thing, but it really means a lot. I'm not rushing into this relationship looking for a best friend. It's enough to have someone to call to invite over for coffee on a weekday this month. God always seems to know my limits. Right when I'm really struggling in the desert of "losing friends" or "leaving Facebook" he gives me a little wink to say "I've got you covered kid!"