We know how easily it is to outgrow something. Clothes that no longer fit are the first thing we think of. A new family might outgrow its sporty cars so there is room for the little one entering their care. An expanding family might outgrow its small home when additional little ones make the space seem crowded. We outgrow our décor, feeling it no longer makes the statement of who we are today. We even outgrow our childish visions of what we thought our adult life would look like.
But in addition to WHAT we outgrow, there is also WHO we outgrow. It is possible, in fact, highly probable, that we will outgrow many people throughout our lives. There is that old saying, “Some people come into your life for a season, some people come into your life for a reason and some people come into your life for a lifetime.” If we’re lucky, we have “old” friends – old not by age but by how long they have been a part of our lives. We may not have a lot of contact with them, but they still have occasional activity in our lives and they have earned a place in our hearts forever.
But think for a moment about all of the people who were once a very active part of your life with whom you no longer have contact…those people who were with you for a season (or two) but no longer see the path you’re traveling on. Sometimes that is our decision, but sometimes it’s theirs. In either case, one person has OUTGROWN the need for the other in their lives. These can be people from our professional lives and our personal lives. Along the way, we meet people who, in some way, mentored or taught us. They were put in our lives for that reason. But once they have given you what they have to give, their impact in your life becomes less important and less meaningful.
Sometimes we simply outgrow people because we are on a path of self-growth and development and they no longer “fit” with us. Maybe, we spend time trying to create a relationship that is in balance, only to find that the other person’s presence in our lives only causes unbalance. And that’s okay, too! Anything or anyone whose presence disrupts you on your path no longer has value in your life. And despite the feelings of sadness and potential guilt, you have to be true to yourself and value yourself enough that you are still willing to let go. You are not at fault for having priority shifts in your life – in fact, it’s necessary to live a good life! Think of it this way: Before children came along, a husband goes out with his buddies to shoot some hoops whenever he can. His wife goes out for some retail therapy or drinks and chatter with her girlfriends at least once a week. Then, poof! There is a new baby in the house. Priorities are going to change! And maybe the buddies will fade away because basketball was their common denominator. Maybe the girlfriends, after initially cooing over the new little one, will feel like you don’t have time for them anymore and shift their circle away.
It’s taken me a bit to forgive myself for those people I’ve had to walk away from simply because they unbalanced my personal path for growth. The guilt comes from realizing that they are the same person they always were, but it’s you who has changed. No matter how difficult it is to end that relationship, we know that holding on to disruptive things – and people – in our lives slims our chance to grow fully. In these cases, we need to find a way to tell them that it’s nothing they’ve done wrong. Feelings will be hurt. It is a necessary evil. To let the relationship continue, or even dangle, only postpones the inevitable. When the choice comes to live with the guilt of ending a relationship or choose to stay in it and inhibit our own lives, the answer becomes clear. Sometimes you’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do!