Leaving Friends Behind

Intro

INTRODUCTION
You know the drill. You find out you’re PCSing, and something in your subconscious kicks in and tells you it will be easier to leave if you and your friends aren’t so close. So, somebody does something stupid to pick a fight and then someone gets angry and before you know it, distance develops between you, and then you leave! Seriously? God’s offers a better way to leave your friends.

Story

We were on the buses as they rolled back into our military community in Germany after an unbelievable week of Beach Break with Club Beyond. My tent full of guys had pretty much done everything together. We won the sand volleyball tournament, jumped off the rocks at Cinque Terra, took goofy pics in front of the leaning tower of Pisa, bronzed our bods, bought stuff from the coconut guy on the beach, and got to meet some great girls from Heidelberg! Then came the evening clubs – tons of fun, lots of laughs, and a guy really opened our eyes to who Jesus is. A few of us talked pretty deep about this stuff and decided to meet the challenge of following Jesus Christ. We even got a new Bible. My best friend, Jose, and I became tighter than we had been.

We were all seriously tired as we pulled into the base and grabbed our junk off the bus. It had been a great week and saying goodbye to folks was a little harder than I thought it would be. Lot s of hugs as we loaded our stuff up in our parents’ cars. Jose came over to me, gave me a guy hug and said, “See you, man.” I told him I would call him tomorrow, but he said, No, I’m leaving. We’re driving to the airport in 30 minutes. I’m PCSing to Ft. Bragg.” He got in the car and drove away! Unbelievable!! I had just spent a week with him and he hadn’t said anything about moving, much less when we got back! I was hurt, and angry and stunned, and sad. I couldn’t believe that anybody could do that.

After I got to college, I realized that this kind of leaving is not all that uncommon for military brats. We seem to use several strategies when we’re PCSing. We avoid like Jose, or we pick a fight so it’s easier to leave, or we disconnect by moodiness or hyperactivity, or we act like everything’s OK even though we’re dying inside. Sure, it’s survival mode, but leaving friends can be done in a healthy way. Soon, we begin to regret the way we have handled the last PCS, but we seem to do similar things again, and the regret builds and builds and eats away at our soul.

In college, I came across this thing called RAFT* that can be used when it’s time to PCS. It goes like this:

Reconciliation = taking care of unfinished business if there are folks with whom you need to reconcile (put things right, get back on friendly terms)
Affirmation = thanking those who have been important in our lives
Farewell = saying goodbye to people, places, pets and possessions
Think destination = planning ahead for what we will need to live successfully in the next place

When we find ourselves in the ‘Leaving’ stage of this PCS transition (see the five stages in the INTRO to TRANSITION topic), we are often beginning to think more about the future than the present with mixed feelings of excitement for what will be gained and sadness for what will be lost. It’s also that time when we begin to lean away (if not push away) from one another because we know the separation is coming. 
THIS IS WHY WE NEED TO BUILD A RAFT INSTEAD! The push-away or neglect strategies actually prolong the transition because we know we haven’t handled it right and people got hurt (often it’s us we’re hurting). Living with that wrong sense of leaving can haunt us for years and take its toll on future relationships. Consider the RAFT idea as a better coping strategy to develop strength in your relationships and positive patterns for the future. So, build RAFT before you leave: make relationships right, thank people, take time to say your goodbyes, and plan ahead!

(* Many key concepts from this section are taken from Life in Motion; Growing Through Transitions, by Ruth Van Reken and Amy Casteel, 2010, published by YouthCompass International, Seattle WA.)

Bible intro

This is a story of real-life people from Scripture, and one man named Jacob who didn’t leave well. There was unresolved conflict, and when we leave with that kind of relational junk that isn’t dealt with, a few things happen to us. First, the anger and pain we feel doesn’t just go away. We carry it with us, which means we will carry it into our other relationships at a new location. Next, if we ever see those friends or family in the future, there is embarrassment and fear. It will really eat at our insides and sour our hearts. That’s why God puts such a strong emphasis on reconciliation in Scripture (see Supporting Scripture section below), because he knows what a toll it takes on us if it’s not dealt with. It’s a bit of a long story, but it’s necessary to follow his life over a period of years to see how this works out. Isaac is the dad, Jacob and Esau are twin sons, with Esau being the elder son. Take a look:

Personal Questions
1. Have you ever felt like a friend pushed you away or you pushed a friend away a couple of months before a PCS move? How does that feel today?
2. Looking at the four parts to building a RAFT, which one(s) have you made a part of your leaving process?
3. It took Jacob many years to learn that running away did not solve his relational issues. Why do you think he did that in the first place? How much do you identify with Jacob?
4. What’s your reaction to some of the passages about reconciliation? How important do think it is to God? Does that matter to you?
5. Can you think of the best ‘farewell’ you’ve ever experienced? What made it good? What lessons can you take from the Scripture passages on saying farewell?
Prayer

Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy on me.
I want to thank you, Gracious Lord,
for the good friends you give me
they are for me a priceless bounty.

Thanks to them, friendship is neither an abstraction,

nor a distant, almost impossible, dream. 

 


I owe to your providence, Lord,


the possibility of counting on

the constant help of friends.


 

Between me and them you have formed a solid bridge,

which can withstand all threats of destruction.


 

The happiness with which you have blessed us


enables us to enrich one another.

 

But you alone know the reasons
that drew us closer together.

 


I promise to do everything in my power

To deserve this precious gift

that you have reserved for me.

 


I ask you, Gracious Lord, to keep them safe in your hands,

for they are yours above all.


 

Amen.

Map

Take a look at the area where Jacob grew up, took his brother Esau’s birthright and blessing, then ran away up north, got married to both of Laban’s daughters, and traveled back where he once again ran into Esau. Do you know what countries these geographical areas would represent today? View the map.

 
 

411

The word “reconciliation” used in the New Testament comes from the Greek words katallasso, katallage, apokatallasso:

  1. 
Derived from kata = according to; allasso = to exchange, alter (from Allos = another)

  2. Meaning: to restore understanding between people after hostility, displeasure or disagreement.

The English word "reconciliation" comes from Latin reconciliare; re = again, conciliare = to bring together, to unite; therefore ‘to bring together again.’

Challenge

Try doing some of the things on this website when you are preparing to say goodbye to friends. This site offers some practical things to try together to make sure your leaving is done well.

Words

Here are two poems about friends and friendship that may line up with some of your own experiences:

Walk Away
© Mili Jain 
I watch you walk away from me

And the tears start to fall

I ask myself a million times

How did we lose it all???

For the first time I had no words

that to you I could say

I cling to old memories

And I watch you walk away

I just don't want to let you go

But inside I know I must

My heart's whimpering with pain

But it's my mind I trust

There's confusion around me

There's numbness in my heart

But looking at you walk away

My world just fell apart

If only I could handle it

And bear to just say

I'd use my breath and say the words



Don't Walk Away!!!

Source: Walk Away, Broken Friendship Poems 

Friendship Means
© Tracie Labauve 
FRIENDSHIP!! 

Current mood: depressed 

Category: Friends




FRIENDSHIP MEANS 



FRIENDSHIP MEANS BEIN' THERE JUST TO BE THERE.


FRIENDSHIP MEANS LISTENIN' AND NOT ASKIN' QUESTIONS.


FRIENDSHIP MEANS LENDIN' YOUR SHOULDER FOR SOMEONE TO CRY ON.


FRIENDSHIP MEANS BEIN’ COMFORTABLE AROUND EACH OTHER IN SILENCE.


FRIENDSHIP MEANS BEIN’ ABLE TO TELL EACH OTHER ANYTHING AND UNDERSTANDIN’ WITHOUT QUESTIONS.


FRIENDSHIP MEANS BEIN’ HONEST WIT EACH OTHER NO MATTER WHAT THE COST.


FRIENDSHIP MEANS STAYIN’ UP ALL NIGHT AND TALKIN’ ABOUT NUTHIN’.


FRIENDSHIP MEANS BEIN’ ABLE TO SAY I LOVE YOU!


FRIENDSHIP MEANS FORGIVIN’ EACH OTHER NO MATTER WHAT YOU HAVE DONE.


FRIENDSHIP MEANS LEARNIN’ FROM EACH OTHERS MISTAKES.


FRIENDSHIP MEANS ME & YOU.


THIS IS THE WAY I LOOK AT YOU, MY FRIEND, AND I LOVE YOU!!


Source: What Friendship Means, True Friend Poems

Quizical

Try taking this survey for your reactions and feelings when you discover you’re PCSing.

Stories

I’m pretty sure that a lot of you will identify with most or all of this blog from a military brat. She titles it “Last Move.”

Leaving Friends Behind 2

Leaving Friends Behind 3

Leaving Friends Behind 4

Leaving Friends Behind 5

Scripture

Acts 20:32-38

Joshua 24:1, Joshua 24:25-30 - As an old man, Joshua says farewell to his people.

Colossians 1:19-22 - Jesus Christ made it possible for us to be reconciled to God.

Matthew 5:21-24 - Making things right with another person is critical to God.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21 - God initiates reconciliation and calls us to do the same.

Video

For those country music lovers, here’s a music video of a song called “I’m Moving On” by Rascall Flatts:

Missy Higgins sings about a breakup of friends that she facetiously calls “Peachy:”

 
Life Questions
1. Build your own RAFT here. Take each ‘log’ in the RAFT and write your answers to the following. Then implement these strategies.
2. Reconciliation: List friends and family that you need to re-establish a good relationship with. Include people you’ve pushed away and whom you need to ask their forgiveness.
3. Affirmation: List people who have given to you and invested in you while you were here. Think of ways to express your thanks to them like a card, or visit, or flowers, or a photo of the two of you. Don’t forget to send it or give it to them soon.
4. Farewell: List key people, then places, then pets and possessions you need closure with. Literally tell them goodbye.
5. Think Destination: Make a list of things that you will need to make life work at your next location. Check this list every other day and add or subtract as necessary.
Lol

Thoughts

Write Your PCS story: Go to the ReZilient Life Facebook page and write your story about how you have coped with leaving friends, some of your best strategies or ideas. You can talk about both successful and disastrous times you’ve had.