I wasn’t sure what to say. I couldn’t get a feel for how my friend felt. Was he upset, angry, weirded out, touched, happy, confused? Henry gave no clue to his thoughts. Only one emotion registered in my own gut: fear.
The first few weeks after Henry left our church were actually harder than I expected. Entering the office each day, I caught myself instinctually looking at his desk to say hello. I found myself wanting to turn around to chat with him about the latest blog I’d just read.
I began to feel an ache around the time each day when we used to go away from our desks to read the Bible together and check in with each other.
I wanted to fill Henry’s absence — but my options were nonexistent. For one, I was now the only guy in my office suite. Second, all the other guys at the church were swamped. I had my good friend, Carver, of course — but his work schedule was almost completely opposite mine.
Henry had been my only other guy to talk to during the work day.
And I didn’t have that now.
A week had barely passed, and I decided that Henry was too close to lose contact. I texted him, just letting him know I was praying for him as he finished up his move.
He responded with a “thanks, man” and a short update.
I figured this would be the new standard for our friendship. The occasional text-with-short-update.
It was better than nothing, I guess.
Two weeks later, though, Henry texted me:
Hey man. How’s it goin? How’s your fam?
I was taken aback. He actually texted me first?
We ended up chatting a little more than just a short update this time. It was nice — actually, fantastic is a better adjective. It meant so much to know that Henry genuinely did feel we were friends.
Reconnecting like this became the norm — every two weeks or so, we’d have a medium-long texting conversation, just catching up with each other. We texted well wishes on holidays and updated each other with urgent prayer requests as they arose.
Then, several months after leaving, I got this text from Henry:
Hi Dean. I hope all is well with you and your fam. Would you want to have a video call tomorrow or Friday just to catch up?
I was beyond thrilled! Reconnecting with Henry on video chat sounded incredible! I quickly responded yes with my availability, and we set it up.
He shared that he’d be in town a few times over the next month. I told him I’d love to meet up for coffee if he had the time; he said he’d see what he could do.
A few weeks later, I was sitting across from Henry in a coffee shop. We were talking face-to-face again. I felt so much relief and peace about it.
Here was someone who’d had such a strong impact on my life, reconnecting and wanting to maintain our friendship even though it took work. And he was putting in equal effort.
This has been a rare thing in my life — especially from this straight married guy who I’d only known a year before he moved.
It truly touched my life.
Then over a month later, a text came through. I smiled when I saw Henry’s name. But then I began reading his message:
I just read your blog post series on me. To be honest, it took courage and time for me to be ready to receive those posts. That’s why I haven’t read them sooner. However, they’ve been on my mind (not even my list) since I left. Thanks for writing them. I’m going to process for a while.
The text took my breath away. I wasn’t sure what to say. I couldn’t get a feel for how he felt. As for me?
I felt sudden fear.
What if I just screwed up this dear friendship? I told Henry he could read the posts about himself — but did I consider his reaction upon doing so? What will this do to our friendship?
I tried grabbing hold of a clear head as soon as possible. I needed to respond. Quickly, I said a prayer and typed back:
Thanks for reading. I can’t imagine the courage it took to read them. I appreciate your willingness to do so. Know I’m willing to talk about or listen to your thoughts on them whenever you’re ready.
Henry simply said thanks.
That was three days ago. The line has been silent so far. And I can only wait till it isn’t anymore.
To be concluded . . .
Have you reconnected with an old friend? Was it awkward reconnecting, or did it feel like old times? Do you have any splintered or ruined friendships where you long for a reconnecting?
Oh gosh. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve hoped and prayed and waited and waited for a reconnecting with a friend. One who moved away. Or maybe I moved away from him. Or maybe we just naturally drifted in other ways. Or had some sort of falling out. It’s a special feeling when reconnect happens. I hope you and Henry continue to build your friendship in healthy, fruitful ways from afar. Thanks for this reminder that all is not necessarily lost.
It is definitely a special feeling, Tom. I’m praying Henry and I will build well from here also. Thank you for your encouragement.
As I’ve gotten into my 30s I’ve become more comfortable with being the person to reach out to reconnect to people I want to reconnect to. I used to agonize over it: If they hadn’t reached out already, does it mean they don’t want to reconnect? Why do I have to be the one to initiate? Is this an unhealthy/unbalanced pattern? As with many things in my life, I was overthinking it.
I think for me 95% of the time it’s sufficient to ask, “Do I genuinely want to reconnect with this person? Or do I just want to feel wanted by them?” If it’s the former, why not reach out to them and give myself the gift of reconnecting with that person? If it’s the latter, why not reach out and give them the gift of feeling wanted?
Oh such a good point Ryan! I can’t even begin to tell you how often I’ve felt that over the past couple years. Its hard, sometimes you wonder if your intuition is telling you that person doesn’t care anymore or if there’s just an awkward breakdown of communication.
I understand that life is authored by God, and God does not seem to get our need for nicely-resolved story arcs. Instead, I sense God is far more interested in the character of the characters of The Great Story than the actual plot. I am hoping that what transpires in your Story will bring you more joy than you could have imagined as you are being matured to grow up into the full stature of Christ. Blessings on you all!
Hey Dean, I’ve enjoyed reading your posts about your friendship with Henry. You include so many cool little details. Cherish even those few intermittent texts from him, and if they stop completely, at least you still know he’s there, alive, able to be touched by your prayers. I learned the hard way to appreciate the little things in a friendship that had changed… my best friend Ryan and I were inseparable for years. Then, in a moment of transparency, I confessed my attraction for him (I don’t recommend that, if anyone is contemplating whether they should do it). That confession destroyed our friendship. I didn’t hear from him again for many years. Then, finally, we reconnected over Facebook. Our messages were few and far between, but they were special. We met up together two times after that, and while our relationship was markedly different, it was still nice to be in his presence again. Then he died in an accident. I don’t share that to be depressing, but just to encourage you to be thankful for even the little things that remain of your friendship. Even if you never see or hear from him again, as long as he’s alive, you can still touch his life through prayer!
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