In a lifetime, we are involved in a variety of relationships. Some are long standing, like high school friends you still get together with fifty or sixty years later. Others come into our lives for a period of time and eventually, for one reason or another they fade into the woodwork. I had two close friends from high school, Jeannie and Marilyn. We stayed in touch over the years, had lunches together, shared pictures of our children and grandchildren. Jeannie had a kind heart. She took care of friends and relatives, even made friends with the guys who picked up the trash, giving them cokes and cookies. Years later they came to her funeral. Jeannie never changed. I could count on the fact that she was my friend, concerned for me, glad to see me and we were always like two old shoes. I took me a long time to get over her death from a brain tumor that took her down in nine months. My other friend, Marilyn, was my tea and antiquing buddy. We’d find a tearoom and have a nice lunch, then explore a different area of town, poking through all the antique stores. I started to collect small elephants; it gave me something to look for. When I got up to 106 elephants, I decided I should end the quest. Cancer also took Marilyn. Now I take part in the “Girlfriends” luncheon twice a year. These are women I also went to high school with but didn’t know very well. Time seems to erase barriers, and now we enjoy getting together and sharing trips and what our grandchildren are doing.

Some relationships are destructive. I met a woman at a former church, I’ll call Mary, who was very needy and having a hard time. I helped her a lot, even with rent. I hadn’t yet learned that there are givers and takers in this world. Mary was a taker. Her tales of woe moved my heart, for a time. Then an incident happened that woke me up and I realized she didn’t want to improve her life; she just wanted people to meet her needs. Reluctantly I severed the relationship. Some other relationships I have had to let go of for my own peace of mind. Good people perhaps, but while they can be friendly and loving at times, when conflict occurs, you discover by their reactions that they really aren’t your friends. You have to take from those relationships the good things that they brought and let the other things go. That is what our Lord asks us to do, but they take a little piece of our hearts.