Some friendships end in great disappointment…. A child who feels betrayed by his or her playmates; a mother whose unmarried friends gradually abandon her; a single guy whose friends appear to forget him as they get busy with family and career. Like heartbreak, the end of a friendship can make us truly suffer.
Helping ourselves and our kids
Friendship can both frustrate us as well as push us to better know ourselves. What we offer in friendship must be precious for it to thrive. Each time we’re tested in a friendship, we must ask ourselves what our ideal of friendship is. Each time we feel disenchanted or hurt by a friend, we should recall what truly counts and avoid judging those friends too harshly, as they may also need time to grow.
A child or a teen can experience the rupture of a friendship as a great crisis, like an emotional desert. It is our duty as parents to help them populate that desert with angels and saints. Our creativity in this domain can only be enhanced by prayer.
Friendship is not a prison; it always allows the other person the freedom to stay or to go. It’s sometimes hard to make our children accept this. At the very least they must realize that a friend is not something they own, like a toy or any other object. The joy of having friends is greater than many others, but we can’t possess them.
When friendship transforms into ministry and mercy
Many years after we’ve moved on – to another life, a different city or a country — we may be overtaken by a feeling of nostalgia for “these friends of yore.” But we must firmly believe that the best is still to come and that the friends we left behind have prepared us for new encounters. So, the prayer we recite can be for the friends we’ll make tomorrow. One day, when we become old, our friendship will transform into ministry and mercy. We will learn how to accept that while some friends have been disappointing, they have also guided us along our path to God.
Vincent de Mello
12 Truths about making lasting friendships from St. John Henry Newman