It was dark, and everything was quiet. I sat in my car looking out at the city from the base of the mountain, thinking of everything that had happened and would soon happen. It was day three of not being on speaking terms with my best friend, and I was still upset about my worst birthday ever and what my best friend had done to me.
I still had rage in me, and it wasn’t going away.
On top of all that, earlier that evening I saw the girl who ended my Bible study post a picture of herself holding hands with my best friend. I immediately blocked her, because I knew what that meant. And I couldn’t handle it right then and there.
Things were changing, and they were changing fast!
I didn’t want to lose my best friend to this soon-to-be relationship. I already knew what it felt like to be left alone, tossed away like an old rag doll by a straight relationship, forgotten.
I don’t know how many times this had happened to me, and I wasn’t ready to go through it again.
Especially by someone I thought would be my best friend for a long time.
I sat there pouring out my heart to God, pleading to Him not to change this friendship! Especially with how things were going in my life.
Why? Why are things not going my direction? Why is everything I’m holding onto slipping through my fingers?
I decided to put on a sermon podcast. Maybe that would help me take my mind off this whole situation.
I found this pastor on rotation named David Rosales from Calvary Chapel Chino Valley who I’ve mentioned on previous posts. To my surprise, yet despair, he was talking about relationships!
Oh great! Thanks a lot, God!
Nonetheless, I didn’t stop or change the podcast. I listened to what Pastor David had to say that night, just to see if it would change my perspective on this whole best friend / girlfriend situation.
What Pastor David said is that we shouldn’t be rushed to be in a relationship, and I totally agreed. But he said something else that required some time to talk about. He mentioned how people get so anxious about wanting to be with someone that they don’t think about how it will affect them as a whole.
How we sometimes think we’re ready for a relationship when, in actuality, we are not.
Pastor David stated that he knew something was wrong with him, ever since he was little, and that he’d also wanted to be in a relationship since he was little.
Some of us desire to be in a relationship; whether it be in romance with another person or friendship, that desire will come out one way or another.
We come to idolize the ideal, and we twist it in our own way to get what we want.
We want the perfect boyfriend, perfect girlfriend, or perfect best friend, yet what we want isn’t good for us all the time.
I thought to myself, for years, I’ve wanted someone to be by my side. That perfect friend or boyfriend to understand me fully, to be everything that I wanted. Someone who was the perfect fit for me because my heart had a hole.
Then he said something that I would soon pray for myself:
Just like Adam was put to sleep in the Garden, will you do that to me? God, in Jesus’ name, will you put to sleep my desires, because I’m always anxious to get married. I want to get married; you know that.
For the longest time, I’d always wanted to get married. I wanted someone to fill that gap inside me, and I’d used people to fill that gap.
Whether from hooking up, wanting a best friend, or wanting a boyfriend to fit my standards, I wanted that long-lasting relationship to call my own. I was never satisfied.
So, I prayed that prayer and cried.
I gave out a big inhale, exhale. I dried my tears and started driving down from the mountain to go back home. That was enough alone time for me that night.
I knew from that point on, things would change. Yes, things were changing, but I still had to go through some stuff before that prayer would be answered.
But one thing came out of that drive immediately. An interest popped into my head and my heart. And I wasn’t ready for it at all!
Have you lost a best friend? Do you struggle with idolizing relationships or the prospect of acquiring certain relationships? Have you ever prayed such a prayer as “put to sleep my desire”?
When I was much younger like middle school age, I had idolized having a girlfriend/boyfriend relatuonship. It is difficult to pinpoint why I had the desire. I guess at this age I had a major ego that simply said I need/deserve a girlfriend. Was I so pretentious and insecure to think I needed a significant other in my life to feel whole? Eventually in seventh grade I did get a girlfriend and we attended school dances and hung out before class. The relationship waned over time and I came to realize I was just in love with the idea of being in a relationship. How this shaped me today is I’m more introverted and I tend to take up new relatuonships slowly. If something happens, then it happens. If it doesn’t then I’m off to meet new people.
When I think of how to deal with my straight male friend finding a girlfriend or wife, I think of what John the Baptist said.
John 3:29 (ESV) “The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.”
I seek to have a “friend of the bridegroom” mentality where I am so happy for him that I love the joy he has for her. I want the best for him more than I want what feels good to me. It makes me feel so happy for him that I don’t think as much about losing some of his affection.
I have had a good amount of opportunities to practice this. I have been best man in 6 weddings.
I like what you shared Marshall. It’s hard to be freed from the seemingly inexorable draw of pity and sadness when friends date and marry. Yet as you shared, it is good to think about the happiness and joy that our friend is experiencing, and to rejoice with him. I am impressed you have been the best man in 6 weddings. I have been best man once, and I am OK with that.
I also am at a stage in life, being in my mid-thirties, that I am gaining more friends who were married at the outset of our friendship. This is a nice dynamic. No worries about losing these fellas to a woman (and their wives actively help me find single ladies to potentially date!). One of my closest friends is married and has a little kiddo. My singleness affords me the opportunity to go to his place to make food and hang out. So as I travel the journey of changing friendship dynamics, I am trying to re-shape how I can be a good friend amidst the seasons of life that my other friends are going through.
One more thing — a recent development. I decided to get a gym membership since my basement is already too cold in Ohio for me to exercise regularly. This has provided me a great opportunity to connect with my friends who, married or single, have busy schedules but like to stay active. I am sad I didn’t try this earlier, but am already happy with deepening friendships…and while at the gym no less. I frequently discuss what I am learning and reading about hear at YOB on the treadmill or elliptical.
Yes, I have also found that I can maintain a friendship with a married friend. I have to adapt and be sensitive to his different needs, but it works. I still have warm, encouraging interactions with my friend of 40 years I called “Brandon” in my earlier posts.
It is so worth the effort!
On September 24, 1984, I lost my best friend and first love to suicide. We were both 14. The shock of finding out was devastating. What was worse was the lack of sympathy at the time. My mother was stoned on drugs at the time and was barely coherent. I saw a school counselor one time just a few days after; he kept calling my friend by his first name (something he never went by nor mentioned; at first I didn’t even know who he was talking about). I started flunking everything in school, but became all my fault that I was failing.
But the worst was yet to come. I grew up with very little knowledge of God and only knew a few Bible stories. My father and his wife were my only source of God and I looked up to them. I made the mistake of asking my stepmother if I would get to see my friend again in heaven. She responded that he was in hell for killing himself. This news was just as devastating as when I found out he died.
I never allowed myself to grieve for him, because doing so would mean I would have to confront my feelings for him. I began exhibiting bad behaviors like hooking up with random guys for sex. I was seeking him through sex with other men; I just wanted to feel the closeness of his body, his breath on me (we never had sex, but we spent many nights together undressed, just talking about silly things that boys speak of). I only went celibate after a friend was hospitalized for serious injuries sustained during gay sex.
The stroke I had occurred on the exact anniversary of his death, 28 years later. I had total memory loss as a result (among other things). When I got the memory of his death back, it was like experiencing his death all over again. I began experiencing flashbacks almost daily. I was miserable. Two months after I got his memory back, God showed me a picture of his grave on the internet, and told me to go.
Seeing it for the first time was an experience I can’t describe. I probably spent an hour there just crying. While I was there, God told me that he had a brother. I thought I was out of my mind. Through research on the internet and pouring over old school rosters, I discovered he did indeed have an older brother. When I Googled his brother’s name, I kept getting back the name of a church in Houston Texas, and that he was the pastor there.
The odds of this being the same person were astronomical. I still wound up contacting this church and left a cryptic message that only my friend’s brother would understand, and my phone number. An hour later, he called me and confirmed that he was indeed my friend’s brother. By this point I was very upset by this, that God had touched me with something so personal. His brother (while not having any idea of who I was) gave me some scripture that helps him get through the day: “…God is not god of the dead, but of the living.”
This one bit of scripture changed me; giving me hope for the first time. I began fighting porn (have two years of sobriety) and have been able to maintain my celibacy (14 years now). I can now be friends with another guy without seeking sex. Even in the midst of my grief, I can still find joy. He is dead, yet he lives. I am at peace now.
Wow Bradley, thank you for sharing your story…a story still on the making I think. Feeling blown away by the pain but full of hope for you. The Lord is with you.
Thank you Matthew. I watched for years as my best friend who I loved more than anyone loved a think more than me. Very sore…but God gave me a better gift in time.
What a powerful story- thank you for sharing, Matt. I resonate with this so much. I spent most of my life longing for a best friend/perfect brother. And I lost so much clinging to it when it wasn’t reciprocated.
Thankfully, God showed me that my root desire was for Him all along. Ultimately, He would have to fulfill my desires before I could be blessed by the friends He would bring into my life.
Yes, very much so. I guess I have a hard time understanding others when gestures or words of affection are professed. Maybe more is expressed in the high of wanting something from another in initial stages and before much is learned of each other. I know everyone has needs so when you talk about looking for that perfect fit in a friend, yeah, there’s that.
I’m learning to change expectations, but how low should that bar be lowered? I definitely think to keep focusing on Jesus is a huge goal for someone like me who only Jesus can fully understand and love. It’s nice to not have to fit so much criteria to be loved. Not fake love. True love. I am thankful for those family and friends I know truly love me for me to the extent they do. I think it’s when I ponder on those who really didn’t know how to love me and the “best friend” not being anything close to it several times over is when I wish that part would be put to sleep.
I thought the need to get married in me was but it recently rather awakened. In any case it’s hard to admit that what I want isn’t necessarily what I’m supposed to have. That what I need may not be fulfilled in this lifetime no matter how much I try, profess, rage, sulk, etc. Trying to rest in the reality it’s in God’s time of it is to be at all.
[…] day after praying to God to put to sleep my desires, along with these feelings that started popping up for this girl, Annie, I felt like a brand new […]
I’ve been facing a long battle, and there have been a lot of ups and downs. Your post helped me see how much some recent marriages have been affecting me. I am doing my best to see what I am continuing to seek in my relationships and interactions with other men and seem to only be able to figure out what I don’t want. I suppose that is progress, but it is painful progress. I am hoping I can build some stronger friendships that will help be break out of this stream of doubt, self-pity, and isolation.