Is it just me or do any of you gals experience, every now and then, this sudden rush of anxiety that you’re not attending properly to all the friendships you’ve accumulated over the years, irrespective of the nature of the relationship (whether you were their leader, workmate, highschool friend, a like-minded person you met at a function, or someone you journeyed with through a challenging season - the list is endless)?
For me, it normally hits when I’m driving or cooking or doing something where it’s virtually impossible for me to do anything about it. The weight rests heavily on me until the Holy Spirit prompts me, yet again, which circle the person, or people, taking up so much space in my thoughts that it’s almost all-consuming, fit in.
I’ve heard it said many times that people come into your life for either a reason, a season, or a lifetime, but, as a people-person who has made some significant geographical moves over the years (from the Gold Coast to Perth to New York City to Brisbane), I have often grappled with an overwhelming sense that I need to keep every person I’ve ever had a meaningful conversation with tucked away deep in my heart, constantly reaching out to them to see how they are (so they know I care and they’re not forgotten). But the reality is, if I were to do that it would basically be a full-time job as there’s many, many people I’ve had the joy of knowing over the years.
As life gets larger, as responsibilities change and increase, it’s impossible to “keep up the contact” and I’ve had to learn, and be ok with the fact, that there are some (dare I say many) people who have come into my life for a reason or a season, and very few have crossed the threshold of being stuck with me for life. Learning to let go in a healthy - not “cutting you off” - Holy Spirit led type of way has been one of the most freeing things about getting older and stepping over the 30 something threshold towards 40!
Here’s a few things I’ve learned about reason, season, lifetime or as I affectionately call them, my “sanity circles”!
When I was a teenager God definitely brought some people into my life for a reason. I had a complex childhood (that’s a story for another day) and when God turned my life right side up, He brought people into my world who loved on me with their time, their words, their prayers and some even with their money. These people helped me get from where I was to where God intended for me to be. They were conduits of His kindness and grace, and inturn, I have done the same for others. Every now and then these people are brought to my remembrance and to be honest, I get a sense of guilt that I don’t talk to them regularly and, to some, at all. But, it’s in these times that the Holy Spirit reminds me of why they were brought into my life and ultimately, why I am brought into the lives of others.
So, when I need to discern if someone is in my life for a reason, I start with why. Why did our paths cross?
I find that people who come into my life for a season the hardest to let go of once that season has passed. As I said before, I’ve made some hefty moves in my time; I’ve completed highschool in one state, university in another, been a part of leading youth ministries both in Australia and in New York, and been a part of churches with a few thousand in the congregation to tens of thousands in the family. It’s a life I wouldn’t trade for anything but one of the most challenging parts for me over the years is the seasonality of a lot of relationships.
When I was ministering in New York there were hundreds of youth who I had the joy of journeying with and many friends that I made while I was there. But, if I were to maintain the same level of contact with them now, I wouldn’t have space or capacity to love and care for the people God has brought across my path in this season of my life in Brisbane. So, I have had to let go, ultimately place those people in the hands of God and be grateful that I got to be a part of their journey for the time He allowed me to be.
There are many things that can cause a season to shift: moving, getting married, having kids, a new job, all your friends getting married, losing a spouse (in all its forms) etc.etc. It’s taken me a while, but I’ve finally learnt (hopefully it sticks) that the seasons are completely in the hands of God and He alone is ultimately covering and in control over the life of every person who comes into mine.
When I need to discern if someone has come into my world for a season it always starts with recognising the shift and ultimately trusting that God alone is responsible for every person He brings my way. All I need to do is be faithful with those He has given me in any given season.
Every single person who has become a part of my life's journey either came into my world for a reason or a season, but, there was something significantly different about the relationship which meant that the friendship has continued to thrive irrespective of all the shifts that have taken place over time.
While I was in Perth I made many friends, but I can count on one hand those who have become “lifers” after 20+ years. In New York, I had so many beautiful relationships, but again, I can count on a few fingers those who are stuck with me forever. Since being in Brisbane for the last seven years, I know there are people here who will continue the journey with me for decades to come.
When it comes to knowing who the “lifer’s” are in my world, it has always taken the gift of time to know who sticks close through the many stages of life. But, Gals, it seems that God has always had a few treasures for me to collect and keep along the way and it’s these treasures, along with my family and those God has placed in front of me in my current season, that I have learnt to prioritise and allow the Holy Spirit to lead me in reaching out to.
As for everyone else, turn down the dial of anxiety, let yourself off the hook, and let’s be women who know that HE is more than capable of caring for them wherever they may be on their journey.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anna Wimberly, along with her husband Lamare and two little ladies, are heart and soul of iSEE CHURCH. With a gift to lead, love, connect and care (and provide epic hugs), Anna’s enthusiasm and commitment to God’s House, discipleship and creating culture makes her one of our favourites.