People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you figure out which one it is,
you will know what to do for each person.
~Brian A. Chalker
I’ve always been selective about who I choose to let into my life. Heck, I’m even selective about who I let view my Facebook profile. Since entering military life, the friendships I’ve made have had their ups, downs and a whole lot of crazies. Military friendships can be fleeting, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make the most of them.
Why do people come into our lives? Why do they leave us? Chalker’s idea of friends for a reason, a season or a lifetime is very fitting to military life. Some cause heartbreak, some bring us joy and all of them are unique and help us to grow.
Friends for a Reason
Some friends seem to come into your life to help you through a difficult time or to be there when you have no one else. They may be there to provide guidance and support, even though you might not realize you need it. These friendships often end abruptly and without fault, so it helps to recognize that they also end for a reason.
When I first moved to our current duty station, it was a few weeks before I decided to venture out and make new friends. On a whim, I met a group of milspouses for lunch out in town. It was a pleasant lunch, and we all exchanged phone numbers. A week later, I was in a car accident. There I was, in a new state without any friends or family nearby… and, of course, my husband was in the field and unreachable. I panicked, knowing it would be hours before he would be notified. Then I remembered the girls I had lunch with, and I called one of them asking if she was able to contact her husband to get ahold of mine. An hour later, my husband was by my side, and I was able to calm down.
I remained friends for several months with those girls, but eventually our friendships faded. There wasn’t a falling out or fight— they just didn’t last. But a need had been fulfilled, and I believe that was why they came into my life. Friends like this are often remembered fondly, however short the friendship may be. I will forever be grateful to those girls for helping me during that time.
Friends for a Season
Friends that come into your life for an extended period of time, or a “season,” are said to be there for you to share with, grow with, or learn together. They are often fast friendships, and they are the type of friends you can both laugh and cry with. It can be sad to lose someone you’ve shared such a special bond with, but with seasonal friends we must remember that seasons change, and eventually end.
I find that when my husband deploys, all of us wives in the unit form a sort of family together while our husbands are away. We plan trips to see each other if we live far apart; we live on our cell phones and communicate via text every few hours; we cry together when we haven’t heard from them; we laugh when we have a funny story to share; and we shop together for care packages. We are always right there for each other, never more than a call away.
I wouldn’t have thought that the end of a deployment would be the end of our friendships, but, for most of us, that’s just how it was. Some of these friendships end with hard feelings or ill will; others just slowly fade away. I’ve experienced both, and to this day still send birthday cards or baby gifts to the ones that ended well.
Friends for a Lifetime
Lifetime friends are the ones that you share rich memories with. They teach you lifetime lessons and they may not always be around, but they are the friends with whom you’ve shared both reasons and seasons. It doesn’t matter where in the world you are— you’ll always be friends.
I have a core group of friends from middle school and high school that I keep in touch with regularly. We had many, many years to grow our friendships, test the boundaries of our relationships, and experience enough “real life situations” to know that each of us are in it for the long run. Despite the fact that we’re now scattered across the country, I know without a shadow of a doubt that they are forever my “lifetime friends.”
I also believe that several of my milspouse friends will be lifetime friends. These friendships are still growing, but we’ve shared enough reasons and seasons in the short years we’ve known each other for me to believe we’re in it for a lifetime.
You don’t need to stay in touch with every person you’ve ever met. Even with the best intentions, we can’t always keep in touch with everyone. So how do you know when to move on in your journey?
Friendship is organic, so just go with it. If a bad situation drives you apart, take a step back and think about what type of relationship it has been so far. Saying goodbye to friends in military life is expected. We’re always moving, always changing and always adapting. That’s just how we roll.