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I was fortunate to find churches in which I felt I had room to change and grow. However, inevitably, I discovered that I would change and grow beyond the box of their comfort zone.
When you change, so do your relationships. You may lose friends. You may even lose family.
Like this cartoon:
1. They will say that you are the one who left, not them. No one would deny that personal change and growth is important. However, for many people, there's only so far they can or are willing to stretch to accommodate you. In the end, it will be your fault you lost your friends.
2. Many people are very uncomfortable hanging out with people who are not similar to them, especially in beliefs. They just don't know how to be, how to talk, how to relax and how to relate to someone very different from them.
3. On the extreme, some people refuse to fellowship with people who do not share their faith. I know that during my growth in the faith, it was emphasized over and over again that I should not mix with non-believers, except to evangelize them, because it would negatively affect me, pull me down from my heights of faith, and cause me to eventually backslide into sin.
4. Finally, when you shockingly and sadly discover the consequences of your personal change, you might find yourself branching out and making new acquaintances and friends. As I discovered, and as many of my friends also realize, this is hard work and must be intentional if you're going to succeed in rebuilding your social life.
I've personally experienced this. It took me a while, first emotionally then practically, to rebuild my social life. I'm very satisfied with it now.
I admire the many people I know who make put their own personal development a priority even though there are risks and costs for doing so. It takes incredible commitment and courage to accomplish, but people are doing it.
Although the costs are complicated, the choice is simple: be fake in a crowd or authentic alone. But the good news is, if you work at it, you will find not only yourself but a new community of friends gathered around you.
You can do it!
In this video, I talk about accepting your longing for the community and relationships that were harmful to you. You can’t overcome something if you haven’t accepted your true feelings about it. Don’t dismiss your feelings, embrace them.