One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do is step back from relationships that used to create so much joy. The memories of “what was” can make it feel like you can’t let go. Romanticizing the past as if somehow it will make the future better. I always see the potential and seek hope in every situation and sometimes it can be difficult to let go and realize what I cherished so much is gone. That relationship that I loved is gone. The potential that they had is what they will take somewhere else. These changes are no more easy than moving away from a place you called home and in fact are sometimes harder because nothing has changed except the truth that the relationship isn’t what it used to be. To realize that they stayed while you moved on.
It sounds so arrogant, doesn’t it? To say that you’ve outgrown someone. You could keep it neutral and say “we’ve changed”. But is that really the case? Did you both change? Or did you do some self-development/make a better choice/etc. that sent you in an upward direction of growth? It does not make them worse or hurt who they are for you to outgrow someone. As long as it’s done with grace and love, change and expansion is perfectly good.
You're allowed to change.
For me, this has shown up in my life because I am constantly pursuing self-development. I want to change, improve, and get better at being myself. Some people are afraid to do self-development for this reason, saying “Well what if I change?”. Well that’s kind of the point! And it can be so difficult to set up those boundaries, borders, and truths to protect yourself, especially when you know it means certain relationships will dwindle. This isn’t your fault because there isn’t any fault at all, yours nor theirs. We are meant to grow and change. Relationships to be lost and new ones to be found, thus is life. But oh how it hurts to look at a relationship that used to bring so much joy and realize you’ve outgrown it. We have to remove this idea of fault and blame when it comes to growth. You’re not to blame and they’re not at fault for anything to do with growth.
So grieve the relationship. Often our society says to just push past a relationship. To block them. Unfriend them. Remove the pictures. All of which can be healthy actions if done with the right intentions, however so often the intention is to remove any trace of its existence. We must grieve these relationships that we outgrow. They were real. They were alive. They had value. Take time to process their end.
"Clear is kind"
The most common areas in my life where my relationships change are my friendships and my work. With my friendships it’s often new changes I’ve decided to make. First, in high school, it was homeschooling myself to pursue my business and skip a year of high school in the process. Next, in college it was the lifestyle choices that I made from eating healthier foods to not going out every night of the week. Eventually, it ended up with the boundaries that I set for myself and the friendships that I obtain; what I deem as acceptable for the way that people talk to me, treat me, or treat our relationship. My motto for boundaries, borders, and truths is “Clear is kind”, (thank you Brené Brown). I leave no stone unturned of what I deem acceptable in a relationship. While it can seem harsh or mean, you become a more compassionate person when you respect yourself and others. The realization of “For me to love them like Jesus does then we can’t be close friends.” was perhaps the best of them all. That I can still love the person and all the memories we had while realizing that it’s best that I don’t have a close relationship with them. Any time I go through the painful realization that I’ve outgrown someone, I search for all the ways I can handle it with grace and show them love through the process.
"it was never mine to hold on to"
In my line of work I see the potential that everyone has to do AMAZING in our business. I see all the ways their hopes and dreams can be achieved and recognized. I see all the healing and growth that the business has to offer them and their households. Relationships will blossom and boom with excitement only to bust when the realization of “ I have to do difficult or scary things” comes into view. Of all the times to realize that the relationship has changed, this is the hardest. I was rooting for you. I was invested. I was ready to run with you. I fell head over heels in belief for your success. And you, you did not. You got scared and afraid and realized you didn’t want to give up how comfortable you were. And I was left with the shattered pieces of everything that could’ve been. All the memories that could’ve been made. All the beach weeks, work trips, and conventions we could’ve gone too. And I have to take all of this and realize that this is actually what is best. That if you couldn’t make it in the beginning then you definitely wouldn’t make it to the end. Oh how it hurts to know I won’t see you walk across the stage dressed in success and smiles from head to toe. Someone’s unrealized, unreached potential is the hardest thing for me to let go of but in the end it was never mine to hold on to. I write this as if I’m an expert at handling this but in fact I wrote this so I could learn more about how to do it.
Outgrowing relationships is oftentimes a process. As your roots in that way of life shrink only to grow in another, it’s a slow waxing and waning process. A truth that I’ve recently found for myself in this process was to trust people, not believe them. To trust their actions. Their choices. Their behavior. Their words. And the words that go unspoken. Instead of believing the words I hear them say or ideas they want to do. I trust them. Oftentimes when we want to make up stories or sugarcoat words and actions, trusting can bring clarity. And as we know, clear is kind.
Change is constant.
This is not to say that this happens to every relationship. Some grow and change as we do, with memories lasting a life time. Other’s dwindle down and then start back up as later in life our lives are more compatible. How blessed are we that there are billions of opportunities to start a new relationship? Or the holiness in those lifelong friendships that we’ve had since second grade? Or maybe even the joy of a long-forgotten friendship that is rekindled later in life once it’s a better fit? The point is, the only constant things about relationships is that they change. Whether it was self-development, life changes, or deciding you wanted a different path than them, life will change your relationships for you.
So to those I’ve outgrown, you still have such a special place in my heart. My heart has joy when I think of you, and I have so much peace about how our relationship ended. I’m doing well and I hope you are too. Maybe one day, if it’s God’s will, we will start a new relationship. Or maybe we will just keep those beautiful memories of what was. Either way I will choose joy.