Young People Ask . . .
Why Did My Best Friend Move Away?
‘YOU look as if you’ve lost your best friend.’ People will say this when someone looks a bit sad or depressed. But when you really have lost your best friend, the saying takes on a whole new meaning.
After all, true friendship is something special and precious. The Bible says: “A true companion is loving all the time, and is a brother that is born for when there is distress.” (Proverbs 17:17) Good friends provide us with companionship and support. They help us grow emotionally and spiritually. While casual friends or acquaintances may be plentiful, individuals whom you can truly trust and confide in are usually rare.
So if your best friend has moved away, it is understandable that you may feel devastated. A youth named Bryan recalled how he felt when his best friend moved. “I was scared, lonely, and hurt,” he said. Perhaps you feel the same way.
Reflecting on the reasons why your friend has moved may help. Certainly, it was not out of lack of appreciation for your friendship. Moving has become an established part of modern life. Each year in the United States alone, more than 36 million people move! According to the U.S. Bureau of Census, the average American will move 12 times in his lifetime.
Why all this moving? The reasons vary. Many families move in order to obtain better jobs and housing. In developing lands, war and poverty have forced millions of families to move. And as youths become young adults, many choose to move out and live on their own. Some leave to get married. (Genesis 2:24) Yet others may move to pursue spiritual interests. (Matthew 19:29) Among Jehovah’s Witnesses, many leave the comfort of familiar surroundings to serve in areas—perhaps even foreign lands—where there is a greater need for Christian ministers. Some move within their home country to serve at Bethel, as the facilities for overseeing the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses are called. Yes, as much as we love our friends, we must view it as a fact of life that as time passes, they will likely move.
Whatever the reason for your friend’s move, you may wonder how you’re ever going to get over the loss. But while it is natural to feel a little lonely and depressed for a while, you probably realize that moping around the house will not improve matters one bit. (Proverbs 18:1) So let’s look at some things that can help.
Keeping in Touch
“Realize that your friendship is not over,” young Bryan advised. Yes, having your best friend move will definitely change your relationship, but it doesn’t mean that your friendship has to die. Teen counselor Dr. Rosemarie White said: “Loss is very difficult at any stage in life, but the way to handle it is simply to think about it as a change, and not a closing of a door.”
What can you do to keep the door of friendship open? Consider the Bible’s account of David and Jonathan. In spite of a considerable age difference, they were the closest of friends. When circumstances forced David to flee into exile, they did not separate without saying a word. On the contrary, they confirmed their undying friendship, even making a covenant, or agreement, to remain friends.—1 Samuel 20:42.
Similarly, you might talk with your friend before he or she leaves. Let your friend know how much you value the friendship and how much you want to keep the lines of communication open. Patty and Melina, best friends who are now separated by 5,000 miles of land and ocean, did just that. “We plan to keep in touch,” explained Patty. Such plans may falter, however, unless you make some definite arrangements.—Compare Amos 3:3.
The Bible tells us that when the apostle John was unable to see his friend Gaius, he kept in touch by ‘writing him with ink and pen.’ (3 John 13) You may also agree to send each other a letter or a card regularly, perhaps once a week or once a month. And if your parents don’t mind the long-distance phone bills, maybe you can call each other from time to time and catch up on the latest goings-on in your lives. Or you might agree to send each other messages that have been recorded on cassette or video tape. Down the road, it may even be possible to arrange a weekend visit or a vacation together. Thus the friendship can continue to thrive.
Filling the Void
Even so, the departure of a best friend will leave a void in your life. As a result, you may find that you have more time on your hands. Well, don’t let that time go to waste. (Ephesians 5:16) Use it to do something productive—perhaps you can learn to play a musical instrument, master a new language, or pursue a hobby. Running errands for those in need is another productive use of time. If you are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you can increase your share in the public preaching activity. (Matthew 24:14) Or you can start an interesting Bible study project.
Furthermore, the apostle Paul counseled Christians in Corinth to “widen out”—that is, to include others in their circle of friends. (2 Corinthians 6:13) Perhaps you have spent so much time with just one friend that you have overlooked other potential friendships. Youths among Jehovah’s Witnesses find that opportunities often abound right in their local congregations. So try getting to congregation meetings early and staying a little while afterward. This will give you more time to get to know people. Christian conventions and small social gatherings provide other opportunities for making new friends.
A word of caution, though, is appropriate: Don’t be in such a hurry to make new friends that you begin to associate closely with youths who do not share your spiritual goals and values. Such ones can pull you down and can do you more harm than good. (Proverbs 13:20; 1 Corinthians 15:33) Stick with spiritually-minded youths who have a reputation for good conduct.
When you find someone like that, follow through by planning to do something together. Share a meal. Visit a museum. Go for a walk. Arrange to spend a day in the Christian ministry together, calling on people with the good news of God’s Kingdom. With time and effort, the new friendship can grow. Because Christian love is expansive—it ‘widens out’ to include others—when you make new friends, you need not feel you are being disloyal to your friend who moved away.
You can also seize the opportunity to get closer to those who love you the most—your parents. They can be a big help, even though you may at first feel awkward about seeking their company. A youth named Josh said: “I almost had to make myself spend time with them, since I wasn’t close to my mom or dad at the time. But now they’re my closest friends!”
Remember, too, that you still have a friend in heaven. As 13-year-old Dan put it, “you’re really not alone because you still have Jehovah.” Our heavenly Father is always available to us through prayer. He will help you cope with this difficult situation if you trust in him.—Psalm 55:22.
Keep a Positive Outlook
Wise King Solomon gave this advice: “Do not say: ‘Why has it happened that the former days proved to be better than these?’” (Ecclesiastes 7:10) In other words, don’t get stuck in the past; take advantage of the present with all its opportunities. Bill, now in his early 20’s, did just that when he lost his best friend. He recalled: “After a while I started making new friends and did not dwell on the past as much. I tried to prepare for the future and to live in the present.”
These suggestions may help, yet it is still sad when your best friend moves away. It may be quite a while before memories of the good times you had together no longer cause you pain. Just remember, change is a part of life and it provides you an opportunity to mature and grow. While it may not seem possible to replace a special friend completely, you can develop qualities that will make you “likable both from Jehovah’s standpoint and from that of men.” (1 Samuel 2:26) When you do that, you will always have someone to call your friend!
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Saying good-bye to your best friend is a painful experience