I’ve been friends with one of my coworkers since we were freshmen in high school – about 6 years now. We were really good friends, but in the last year she has changed a lot. She’s really aggressive with guys and though not in to drugs or anything too serious, she’s becoming a partyer. I don’t like what I see and I feel like I would just like to end the friendship. But unless one of us quits our job, I could not avoid seeing her every work day and it would be so awkward, I don’t think I could handle it. On the other hand, I feel guilty about giving up on her and think maybe I should try to be a good influence on her. But I just really want out. What should I do?
– Ready to Walk in Wapello, Iowa
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”
Dear Ready to Walk,
Gabby understands how uncomfortable it is working next to someone who arrives at work with a lampshade on her head. And believe it or not, you’re probably not the only one to notice it either. The thing is, growing up is a very personal thing that we all do in our own way, at our own speed—unless, of course, you’re Peter Pan, who, by the way, apparently shouldn’t be left alone with your friend.
Sometimes growing up can be as ugly and messy as the cold sore you get two days before the prom. Yet somehow, miraculously, some people manage to do it with grace and ease. Your friend may be the former and you may be the latter. Which is better? Well your way, of course. However, your friend doesn’t see it that way.
Right now she doesn’t believe she’s behaving like a cold sore two days before the prom. She believes she’s having the time of her life. Maybe she is! She also probably thinks your underwear is two sizes too small and you need to lighten up. Maybe that’s true too! Either way, you can’t and won’t be able to change your friend no matter how much you wish you could. So quitting your job would really be pointless.
Here’s what you can do to help her: live your life exactly the way you are (although seriously, underwear shouldn’t pinch). Be a constant, level, loving presence. Be a light in the darkness. Talk to her the way you would a friend, the way you always have. If she asks your advice, give it! But don’t judge her.
All friendships, even the best of them, ebb and flow over a lifetime. Some exist for a brief, intense period and then burn out, their purpose spent. Some float away from us only to come back later, with new, clearer dimensions. Others gently surround us our entire lives, a constant, cheering, comforting presence: our port in a storm. But always remember that God has a plan for each of us just as He provides cycles of life. “A time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak….” (Eccl.3:5-8).
God engineered life to be this way and accordingly, gave us free will. So by all means, make new friends – the kind that support and encourage you. Find the kind of friends that accept you for yourself and make life’s burdens lighter. The very best thing you could do for you and your friend is to be yourself! In the end, you might be surprised. Even Wendy couldn’t stand Neverland for very long – even though she did get out of it some pretty wild stories to tell to her grandchildren.
But how nice for her, in the end, that when she decided to indeed leave and grow up, all she needed to do was think happy thoughts and head back toward the light of home.
Got a question for Gabby or just want to let her know what you think? firstname.lastname@example.org