How to Relate to Old Friends from Church?

by James

Ways of relating to old friends from church will depend upon how much one wants them to know about one's departure from the faith. My particular circumstances make it awkward for me to try to continue active relationships with old friends from church. The letters here show how I handled the situation.


Letter from Old Friend

From: DD
Sent: Friday, August 07, 1998 7:07 PM
To: James
Subject: greetings


Long time no see!  I got to thinking about you today & have been meaning to see if I could catch you sometime to see how you are doing.  I am obviously missing you & your family at church & don't need to know anything.  But I miss ya'll very much & Dawn and myself were really looking forward to reestablishing a relationship with ya'll when we returned from Louisiana.

We have been updated by some friends in MB's small group which we are a part of now & are getting ready to branch off as of Aug 15th. They told us that you were not attending [name of church deleted] anymore & didn't think you were attending church anywhere else.

James, I guess I stick my nose in people's business alot & it seems to come natural which is scary.  But ya'll were strong believers who still hold the respect of the ones who gave us the update because you influenced their lives as their small group leader.  They miss you alot!

All that aside, I have been thinking & praying about this for some time now & finally got around to telling you that I miss you greatly & would like to meet with you sometime maybe for lunch or something.

If you feel that you do not wish to do this, believe me . . . I understand completely.  So no pressure . . . but, as a friend I would like to catch up on what's been going on with you & Allison & the kids. We got the picture of the kids that ya'll sent us a couple of years ago & it's still on our refrigerator.  We loved hearing from friends while away.  I hated the separation, but it was worth the outcome.

Thanks for all you did in an effort to bring me into [name of employer deleted].  I am in the MSP group in the south building on second shift (3-11:30).  I am in an equipment engineering R&M group doing final test support.

Hope to hear back from you.

Your friend,

My Reply

From: , James
Sent: Tuesday, August 11, 1998 1:38 PM
To: DD
Subject: RE: greetings

Hi, DD.  It's a pleasure to hear from you again.  And it's gratifying to hear that we are fondly remembered at [name of church deleted].  Alison and I also still cherish our friendships with the people of [name of church deleted], even though we now have gone our separate way.

As for our departure from [name of church deleted] and our current status, there are certain circumstances (which will be left unnamed) that make it imprudent for me to reveal what happened and why.  It's not that I don't want you to know, and there will come a time when all can be revealed, but that time is not now.  Sorry to be so cryptic, but it would be unwise for me to reveal more at this time.

Only let me put your mind at rest, that no unhappiness or bitterness afflicts us, except for not being able to disclose all to our [name of church deleted] friends, who surely must be curious and perplexed about our leaving without a word.

As for having lunch together sometime, it would be more comfortable for me to keep some aloofness from [name of church deleted] friends for the time being.  Alison and I are on a path that, although not overly trying, must be walked alone for a while; I wish I could elaborate.  However, I expect that we will see one another at home schooling functions occasionally, so we won't be completely cut off from one another.

If you are wondering whether there is anything you can do for us, it is this: just continue to regard yourselves as our friends, and be assured that we regard all of our [name of church deleted] friends still as friends, and that we hope it will always remain so.

Finally, although I realize I have written a message here that is fuel for the imagination, try not to let your thoughts run too wildly about what it must have been that happened.  I assure you that, appearances notwithstanding, what has happened is a good and positive thing, and Alison and I are content with the outcome.  Whatever speculations your imagination may present to you, if they lead you into melancholy for our sakes then you can be assured that your imagination has misled you.  We are happy for our own sakes, and our wish is that you, too, knowing that we are happy but without knowing why, would somehow also find it within yourselves to be happy for our sakes, and that you might forbear with us enough to allow us this veil of mystery behind which we are hiding ourselves for a time.

Best regards,

DD's Reply

From: DD
Sent: Tuesday, August 11, 1998 6:48 PM
To: James
Subject: Friends we are


Got your message & am glad to hear back from you.  You are right . . . I am concerned for you, but it sounds like you need some time separated from church work for a while to sort through whatever's going on in your life right now. 

I therefore grant you my permission (just kidding).  With all serious, James, we will do our best to respect your wishes because I know how healthy it can be to take a break & think through each value that we hold important in our daily lives.  It sounds to me like whatever it is that you cannot divulge information about at this time has caused you to think along those kind of lines.  I may be way off in left field but I want you to know that we understand your situation better now & appreciate your honesty.

If there is ever a time when you feel that you would like to talk to someone about what's going on . . . I would be honored to listen.

We will sincerely miss you & Alison & the kids.  We will look forward to seeing ya'll at home school functions.

Sincerely your friend,

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