Uncategorized

The hardest lesson I learned in 2013.

I learned a lot in the year 2013. It was fun and hard and curvy all at once.

But one thing clearly stands out as the hardest lesson I learned in 2013. Here it is:

Chasing new adventures means losing old friends.

I wish this wasn’t the case. I honestly do. This is the one that still keeps me up at night. Getting dropped from Christmas card lists is not easy. Losing friends is not fun. This is the part that hurts me the most.

But every dream isn’t for everybody. That’s OK. That doesn’t make them villains, that just makes them human. Sometimes it isn’t that people stopped supporting your dream, it’s that they started supporting someone else’s dream. That’s a great thing for the other person.

In other cases, the friendship ends because you weren’t a great friend to begin with. That’s part of the reason this lesson is so hard to learn. It’s one thing to point the finger at haters, but that isn’t the case here. Sometimes changing your life exposes the truth that you didn’t work hard enough for a friendship in the first place. Recognizing that you’re the bad guy in the situation is never fun.

This post is starting to sound a little like lyrics from the Cure or an emo poem. It needs more queso jokes or Kenny Loggins lyrics.

In summary, I warn you this is going to happen if you change your life.

I also challenge you though, rebuild where you can.

My wife said that to me the other day. She said, “Go be vulnerable. Be willing to be hurt. If the friendship matters to you, it’s the only way.”

So there. To new adventures and repairing some old friendships and letting go of the rest.

About Author

Jon Acuff
Jon Acuff

63 Comments

  1. Jon, sometimes we have to rewrite our scripts. Everyone will not always want to be in the new chapter. I think I just said what you said in a different way.

  2. Steve Rosberg

    I remember when I have been at jobs before and I used to think to myself that I will still be friends with these people after I leave this job. It never usually works at that way. When you leave a company, especially under secretive, strange circumstances, everyone at that job drops you like a hot poker and you never hear from them again. I’ve never really understood why that is. It’s sad really.

    • Steve Rosberg

      Also, it is really pathetic on the part of the people that still work at the organization you used to work at. Why suddenly abandon someone just cuz they no longer work at the same company you do. Are you that afraid of your lousy boss and he or she will think?

  3. Chris

    Jon,
    We too have learned this in 2013. As we followed God’s lead, and moved 800 miles, friends and family dropped us. It was like we don’t exist anymore. It’s very hard, but we do still have peace knowing we are in His will.

    Sometimes people are only in our lives for a season.

  4. For sure. Very insightful. I too have experienced this when I decided to take photos and write about God. Many of my college buddies don’t call when they come in town or anything. That’s ok though. One of my fears is that if I did spend time with them again, I’d fall back into old habits.

  5. ClintM

    I feel like you might have been talking about queso. Were you talking about queso?

  6. The good news is that new adventures are an opportunity to meet new friends. Particularly if your new adventure brings you closer to YOUR dream, rather than someone else’s, the new friends can help encourage and support you through the losses and your new adventure.

    Very true post. I’ve lost several friends, but I really enjoy it when friends from different chapters of my life stick around through the rest of the book.

  7. It’s a shame when friends can’t hang with us whatever may come. But, we have to give grace. There may be reasons we know nothing about.

    • I think you hit on something really important here. When people cut us off their Christmas card lists because you chased a different dream or changed your life…we MUST give grace to them. We may think we know why, we may think they are jealous or insecure or haters, but we still have to give them grace. No need to label them or bad-mouth them…just move on. Capture what you’ve learned from them and invest in the new friendships you inevitably form.

      • Grace

        And make sure YOU keep people on YOUR list!

        Don’t wait to receive cards/contacts — initiate! I didn’t receive a lot of holiday cards this year from some very significant people — it wasn’t that I was off their list, they just didn’t get to cards this year because of the short holiday or whatever.

        Also — I respect people’s privacy to a fault so when they’ve had a big change I’ll usually give them plenty of space to get themselves adjusted rather than pummel them with questions, which can be aggravating when “you don’t know” or “don’t want to talk about it”.

        For anyone who’s wondering what happened to so-and-so — reach out. They’ve probably been hoping to hear from you!

        And if not, well, as Jenny Acuff suggested…now you know.

  8. Jon – I so appreciate your candidness here. It strikes a chord with what I’ve been experiencing for the last year. After 20 years, I walked away from corporate America to pursue a dream. My life has taken a different direction and I’m losing connections with ‘friends’. What I’m finding is that our goals aren’t the same anymore. They are after success and I am after fulfillment of my purpose. I feel as if I’m changing and they are not. If this was the foundation of our friendship then it was built on the wrong thing.

    Someone wiser than me encouraged me to not let the ideals/actions of others derail my purpose. WOW! That was a profound statement. I encourage you in the same way!

    Thanks for not making me feel ‘alone’ in this…

  9. Really wish this wasn’t true, but it is!

    In 2013, I made a goal of committing more time for my family, which meant that some things had to be cut out of my schedule. A few folks got very angry, even when I told them that this was simply to gain more margin in my life and to spend more time with my family. It hurt, but I know it was the right thing to do.

  10. Love this post, it reminds me of a post on Matt McWilliams’ blog about how personal growth means making tough decisions:

    http://www.mattmcwilliams.com/personal-growth-means-tough-decisions/

    Pretty cool post and he even drops a “Jesus Juke!”

    This post, as well as Matt’s really hit home because I’m in a place where chasing my dream has changed some of my friendships.

  11. I lost a dear friend of many years because of the fact that our life views slowly grew apart. My deciding to go to college in my early 20’s was what finally ended the relationship.

    It hurt. A lot. I tried several times to reconcile, or at least meet, but was ignored. Now I sometimes hear updates about her from old mutual friends but that’s it. I knew I needed to walk my own path but that knowledge didn’t take any of the sting out of it.

  12. Thanks! Nothing profound to add. But thanks for being real.

  13. I’ve experienced this more times than I care to count. New adventures always equal losing old friends. I have also found that true friends will stick with you and encourage you.

  14. I learned this lesson in 2013 when I left my job overseas and moved back to America.
    Sometimes friends are like Manna in your life–they only last for a short time. But if they’re no longer there, it’s because you don’t need them. And there is always new provision, new friends, when you need them.

  15. SHARON DUKE

    Keep her, she cuts to the chase.

  16. Chris

    It’s a hard one to learn. Life changes and with that relationships change. I’ve been through so much change in the last decade that I’ve lost track of all the change.
    College, dating, marriage, kids, moving…somewhere along the way you’re going to lose track of someone. I think we should thank God for the time we have with people and take away the importance of time.
    I lost track of my closest friend when I went to college in the 90’s and he didn’t. I think it was good to have that time away. We’d see each other from time to time during those 4 years, but it wasn’t the same.
    After college I moved back to my hometown and we picked up our friendship where we left off. This time, closer than before. We had carved our own paths in life and now we were encouraging each other in that direction.
    He and his wife are like family to us and we spend a great deal of time with them.

  17. Jon, greetings from Samford past. I can’t tell you how happy I am to see you Following God, successful(which I suppose is relative), married and caring for your kids. I have faced many demons as an adult and seeing you doing well gives me hope and faith. I wonder if you remember me in your fame and good fortune sometimes. But if you forgot it’s okay, I remember working out in the old cage, I remember your charisma before you had thousands of facebook fans. God bless you my friend. I love you, keep in your lane and following God!!!
    Scott Cohen

  18. Jim

    Of course I can’t help to wonder (as I’m sure others here are as well!) if you got a card from Dave! Don’t expect an answer.

    I do relate to the post. We’re about to make a big move and I have no doubt it’ll change our relationships with people and maybe end a few….

  19. Renee

    And if you are so busy with your life you may miss what might be happening in theirs that causes them to pull away. Two people going in the opposite direction double the distance between them with each step.

  20. Tim

    Your wife is smarter than you are, Jon. That’s ok. Mine is smarter than I am, too.

  21. Johanna

    It has been quite enlightening and liberating to lose some people who were never friends at all or whose codependent friendship I had to shed in order to grow. 2013 was a year of *losing*, but only losing that which I really never needed in the first place. The freedom I have gained has me bouncing & wobbling on untried legs, like the astronauts on their moonwalk. It is terrifyingly new, although I know now I have longed for this very freedom all my life.
    Maybe, losing the baggage is the only way to fly?
    One small step for man, one giant step for dreamers.

  22. Been in that situation several times. I have found that when you make healthy decisions for yourself, those who do not have your best interest at heart and would prefer you to remain unhealthy will drop you also. You getting healthy is a threat to their control. Pitiful, but true.

  23. Julie Williams

    It is hard. One of my favorite quotes I heard years ago during a season of change, loss and gain was, “One of the most gracious things God can do is pull out from under you the very thing that you are relying on that in the end is going to fail”. I was living it and had relationships pulled out from under me that meant everything to me. It hurt, it was loss, it was natural and healthy to grieve but oh how I saw in the long run it was a gracious gift. Not that you are relying on those relationships but I would rather walk in truth and loss than in fake fulness. Stay strong, walk tall and humbly.

  24. I totally get what you are saying…but I also think that life is just like that sometimes. People are occupied with making a living and doing what they can get done in the time they have. My son told me that his prior friends weren’t really friends at all because every time he came to town, it seemed harder each time to meet with his old friends. At that time I told him that people move on, circumstances change, life happens–nothing personal. The last time he was in town (now 7 years in total since he moved), he called up some old friends and they had an amazing time. Things come to pass, but some seasons last a lifetime. 🙂

  25. dan

    Tough truth here, Jon. It give me a lot to think about, and some comfort for the times friendships have not gone well. Thanks for sharing.

  26. Our church had a very hard split in 2012 and the change in friendships has been the hardest thing. I’m realizing some people are friends for a season. I’m appreciating them for what they represented and trying to focus on praying they prosper as we all move forward without the closeness we all had. But many, many tears have been shed over many people I miss.

    I look forward to hearing what new friends you make and receive Christmas cards from in this new season you are all embarking on.

  27. Matt McWilliams redirected me over here after I left a comment on Chris LoCurto’s Podcast. I’m in the middle of a transition as I’m pursuing God’s calling on my heart. Some folks are on board, others aren’t. In the end, I have to TRUST which is My One Word for 2014.

    As Kenny said, “It’s your life, isn’t it a mystery? If it’s nobody’s business, it’s everybody’s game”

    “I’m alright! Don’t nobody worry bout me.”

  28. Good stuff Jon. Right there with you. Bigger and better 2014 ahead.

    – Chad

  29. Hannah

    To new adventures and repairing some old friendships and letting go of the rest. #feelinemoish

  30. I’ve been through the same process a few times in my life, and it’s always really hard. I think you’re right on with your reasons why friendships sometimes end, but I think they also may end because God ordained them only for a season. After all, friendships aren’t marriages–I don’t think God intends for them all to last for life. I believe that, sometimes, he brings two people (or a group of people) together for a particular purpose; when the purpose is satisfied, it’s time for the friends to move on.

  31. LeahB

    Ahh, this is my least favorite part of being a ministry family. Even when we haven’t moved anywhere, we have had to “start over” because all of our close friends have moved away. I’m looking forward to whenever it’s our turn to chase a new adventure! It seems to me that it’s less sad that way, because at least you’re preoccupied with starting something new, and not sitting around being sad because your friend is gone. 🙂

  32. Jon,

    We ALL are praying for restoration. No reason why you can’t do separate things together. The kingdom will benefit.

  33. I guess they weren’t “real” friends then.

    Remember, if you don’t have your own plan, you will become a part of someone else’s plan.

  34. A hard lesson, indeed. One I’ve learned many times, but that doesn’t get any easier. Thankful for you, dude.

  35. Jon, of all that you have written in the last 6 months this was by far one of the most powerful! Thank you!

  36. Amy

    Hmmm. I’m thinking you and Jenny didn’t get your card from us. Scene: We’re at my parents addressing envelopes 3 days before Christmas because we like to get a head start. Preston is on one end of the table with a stack. I’m on the other end. I remember him asking ” What’s Jon and Jennys address?” and I said “put it to the side and I’ll look it up.” He never put it to the side. Either he found your address and you got it, or it’s still floating out there in the big black hole of Christmas cards that were mailed without an important detail, like an address. This post is great!

  37. Thomas

    Jon,
    I for one am really looking forward to your new life outside of the Dave Ramsey umbrella. I can’t wait to read your next book free from little name drops every other page. Both Start and Quitter suffered from a “sponsored by Dave” feeling. You can do better.

  38. Sometimes you never get to be popular, even if you bring the Skittles. You’ve talked a lot about being content that God knows your name. Remember that in all the change, He hasn’t forgotten yours, nor wondered why you hadn’t called.
    I did. God didn’t.

  39. I’m so glad Jeff Henderson tweeted about meeting with you because it led me to this post. Very encouraged!

  40. I totally understand this Jon. Pushing through things is easy compared to pushing through people. Things are things, but relationships hurt.

  41. Henry

    Truthfully, after reading this and all that happened in 2013, hadn’t it been for the Kenny Loggins recommendation, I d probably still be emotionally paralyzed, counting how many times it’d take for me to listen to Stephen Curtis Chapman’s “Christmas Card” Well done, Jon. Cheers To new adventures and the unhappy hump days that sometimes come with them.

  42. Henry

    P.S. Cheddar’s was my three time a year favorite restaurant that made a beloved thorn in my side not seem a thorn…how much sense does that make?

  43. Wisdom from you both! Totally in agreement…as I have been slowly living this out over the last 5 years alone (needless to say my whole life)! Those who stick around, are the lifers. The ones who don’t, are for reasons and/or seasons. The lifers will always amount to few…but the reasons and/or seasons, will amount to many. I’ll stick with my few, and thank God for them all! 🙂

  44. It’s heartbreaking when this happens, but the memories once made are still there. New adventures, new horizons, different futures in store. What a dull world this would be if many other people hadn’t broken free to pursue their own dreams, letting go of the nay-sayers.

  45. Julian

    Been there. Done that. Change is interesting for sure.

    Solution: Show them grace then pick new friends like me to go on your next leg of your adventure!

  46. Jon,
    Thank you for being vulnerable. Chasing dreams changes things. I don’t have time to talk on the phone aimlessly, but I will try to make time to help a friend weed their garden or encourage them in prayer. Face to face.
    I pray the friendships you want to mend will be mended.
    Honesty and trying are worth millions. And your wife is very smart.
    Sincerely,
    Pamela

  47. mark

    Jon.
    I love you with all my heart….
    but…
    this post is all about you.
    The poeple who dropped of their christmas card list have their own life and dreams.
    you see people and talk to them because you have to work with them and see them on a weekly basis.
    Now that YOU decided to change routes… they dont have to follow you wherever they go. Trust me, they are thinking of themselves.
    I bet that if you and Jenny find these people that you have in mind (i know you are thinking of a few people specifically writing this post) in a starbucks making line to buy buy coffee or you see them in the supermarket they will more excited to see you then you will be to see them (since you have concluded they abondoned your dream) and i bet they will ask you about your dream…
    Much love to the Acuffs!!

    • Sandwiching your assuming and harsh criticism with “love you with all my heart” and “Much love to the Acuffs!!” doesn’t make that sandwich taste any better.

      • Marcos

        Im not making a sandwich. I’m just sharing my thoughts and trying not to sound like a hater (cause I’m not). Just my opinion my friend. If it’s criticism then that’s that. I do love Jon. His books have impacted my life in a great way.

  48. Michelle

    John – this is so true. 2 years ago we changed our lives. That required a relocation and it was hard. We left people behind and lost touch with people I thought would be friends for life and it HURT. Jenny is right put yourself out there. I instead cloaked myself in my new job and and my family and withdrew from everything else. I didn’t want to put myself back out there. It is hard to realize friendships didn’t mean what you thought they did to others or to yourself.

    I have recently started reaching out to others and starting growing relationships here. I am sorry I took so long to put myself back out there. So mend what matters and develop new relationships who will support you.

  49. terry

    One thing I haven’t read a lot of here is how much, if any work was done on our behalf to keep friendships in tact. I moved from the Pacific time zone to the Eastern time zone over 20 years ago and still have friends I grew up with and ones I went to college with. It takes work folks. Just because you’re chasing the dream or moving in a new direction doesn’t mean you don’t have to work at it. Remember (as I’m often reminded) if you are the one that packed up and left….you are the one that left, not them. You are blessed if you have 4-5 friends that you can go deep with. You’re incredibly blessed if those 4-5 friends represent different time periods in your life. It takes work!

  50. Cheryl L

    Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. I still struggle with this one having moved a LOT in my life. As a result, I’ve always struggled to feel successful at being the kind of friend that people want to put effort into keeping. Not sure that makes sense. As I am only 2 weeks away from turning 50, and facing another cross country move, I’m especially feeling the lack of REAL friends. The kind who stick with you through everything and make you feel like they really want to spend time with you. Birthdays and holidays certainly bring out those feelings of loss and the absence of friends. I have many people who would tell you they are my friend, but few who effectively communicate friendship to me.
    I also find that God brings people back into our lives at different seasons. I’m moving to a part of the country that I’m completely unfamiliar with. Yet, God has already reconnected me with 3 different college friends. Life has taken each of us down very different paths. I’m looking forward to rekindling some old friendships.
    God continues to teach me through the pain of loneliness and loss that I have a friend who sticks closer than a brother. My walk with Christ has deepened and strengthened through the years as I learn to rely on HIM to meet that deep felt need for friendship.

  51. Jessica

    I forgot to send Christmas cards…..wonder where that leaves me?

  52. I think our definition of “friends” is much too broad.

    I think it’s okay to have people you chat with, people you like, who you sorta know but not deeply – associates, coworkers, neighbors – and to let these people come and go from your life as things change. It’s not easy to let them go, and I mourn my losses, but I am thankful that I knew them when I did.

    But you have to have a few friends and family who are more than that. People who you “let in”, and who also let you in. These are the people you discuss your hopes and fears with, the people who know you not as their neighbor or coworker, but as *you*. This is the friend that’s “closer than a brother”. It’s good to choose these people carefully, and if you realize you chose wrong, it’s okay to “demote” them. But these are the people you make the effort for. These are the people you’re there for, and who are there for you. Depending on the time in your life, you may see them every week, or once in a blue moon, but the relationship does not fade.

    I’d hope that for married people, their spouse is one. For those of us who are single, we cannot write ourselves off as not needing such friendships. We all need this, like we need food and shelter. We can be friendly to everyone and true friends to a few, and that’s probably how it’s supposed to be.

  53. Thanks for posting. That really spoke to me because we have moved over 7 times in 5 years, including international moves.

    Over and over, I learned this lesson.

    I have kicked myself for how I have ended relationships and that I wasn’t able to give what I wanted to give. When life changes that much or when you change jobs it is physically impossible to keep up such close ties with a LOT of people. I felt spread really thin with my friendships. At one point we didn’t have the internet for 6 months when we moved internationally and that really cut off communications. Some people can understand and handle it well and other people can’t. I also could have communicated better to the people I love and kept telling them that I would love to talk, but I am really limited at the moment. Life has to keep moving on and I have to keep getting back on my feet after each move and change. Thanks again for posting!!!

    Judi

  54. Super true man. It’s hard, but it’s worth losing friendships for the new adventure. I read some place that the average friendship lasts roughly 5 years. It’s really not that long. Kinda crazy…

  55. Karen

    You can always stay Facebook friends.