“No new friends, no new friends, no, no, no, no new.” Twenty-six year old Janae sang with enthusiasm as she sped down the highway. Pushing the accelerator with force almost daring a cop to pull her over. Her phone buzzed interrupted her car karaoke. The phone screen read ‘Don’t Answer’. Her eyes rolled as it could only be one person calling. She hesitated before hitting the decline button. Weighing in the pros and cons of the possibility of another long argument between two people who no longer had any business calling each other friends. The song resumed but this time she wasn’t singing with much ferver. Another one bites the dust. She thought. With as many friends as I’ve lost this year, this shouldn’t surprise me…and yet. Her thoughts trailed off to her destination. Atlanta, here I come.

This wasn’t always the reality. Once upon a time, 8 year old Janae used to sing, “Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver the other’s gold.” in her Girl Scout Troop. She would sing it louder than the other girls partly because she was the best singer in the troop and partly because she believed she was living this principle. She had many friends with diverse backgrounds. She loved to love and be loved. So singing this song was her favorite part of every troop meeting. She would think about her church friends, her friends in her cul de sac, her friends in her class, her friends in her other friends’ neighborhoods…

What happened to her? That little girl. That bright young woman whose only goal in life was to rule the world so she could change it for the better.

Life. It was years of being taken advantage of by people she trusted. Along the way she picked up some of those same manipulative habits and caused harm of her own to people she cared about. What a vicious cycle. The abused becomes the abuser. But, there is good news. There is a cure to this.

The cure to being scarred by friendships is to become a friend. Dont be bitter, be better. Realize that sometimes we make horrible decisions in accepting friendships. We dont always look at the added value of people before we bring them into our lives. Some people have hidden agendas or hurts of their own they have yet to overcome and they simply arent capable of being a good friend.

I once had a friend in college. She was a sweet girl and very funny. Her dorm room was next to mine my freshman year. We both cheered & were natives of the DMV. Our ‘lets stick together’ attitude formed a bond with a few other freshman cheerleaders that morphed into a tight knit group. Initially, I would’ve considered her a good friend. We shared secrets and stories from high school. It wasn’t until her stories started straying from reality that I realized there may be a problem.

She would tell me that she drove a benz at home but told another teammate she didnt have a car. She told our friend group she knew an upperclassman on campus but that same upperclassman never spoke to her. Small lies began adding up and our group was concerned. One night we all sat her down and told her that she didnt have to hide the truth and that she was safe with us. She didnt have to lie about her life outside of college. She cried, we cried. Everyone hugged it out and she promised to stop. The very next day, the lies began again. We didn’t know what else to do. So we did nothing. We let her lie.

After a few months we were tired of the lies especially the ones that now involved us. We had even found out that she lied to her mom about our treatment of her which resulted in her mom threatening bodily harm to all of us. Slowly but surely we all stopped inviting her to hang out. We no longer left our dorm rooms unlocked for visitors. She soon realized her mistake but it was too late. Her lies had gone too far & we were done.

Looking back, I see a few things.

1. I see that she was broken. She came from a family that valued appearance over prosperity. They would rather look rich then actually be rich. Her lying was a symptom of wanting to be more than she actually was. It wasnt her fault. She was taught this. As I’m sure her mother was taught this and so on.

2. We didnt know anything about maintaining good friendships. We quickly wrote her off after she showed a major character flaw. How many times have you had a character flaw? Ive had many. The moment she proved to be a person that needed work in order to be a part of our lives we dipped. We didnt see her as worth the work. How bad must she have felt?

3. Friendships are more than just about commonalities. Things and people change and if that is the foundation of your friendship, the friendship will ultimately fail. I think about my best friend Camille. We started our friendship because we were in the same class and have the same last name. But, we are no longer in classes together and one day our last names may change. There has to be something else there to keep us connected. For us that’s Jesus.

4. Its okay to not be friends with someone. You dont have to feel guilty about what you believe is right. Thats why the words ‘sorry’ & ‘apology’ were made. You will make the best decision with the information you are given at the time. So ending a friendship is not a bad thing. If you find that you made a mistake, apologize. But, you may also find that ending that friendship made room for an even better one.

Over the years since the ending of the above mentioned friendship, I have learned so many other lessons on how to start and maintain friendships. Ive learned that the type of friend I need will change over a lifetime and I need to seek what is fruitful versus what is comfortable. Friendships can be hard to navigate but taking the time to learn yourself will not only benefit you but also the people in your life.

K, good talk

-J