I talk a lot about the concept of friendship, because it is such a beautiful blessing given to us from the Lord. Having friends to walk through life with proves to be a gift no matter how old we are or what season of life we find ourselves in.
In 2020 I wrote a book on friendship, not because I had the concept figured out (still don’t) but because when friendship is good, it is really good, it is life giving.
There are times though, that friendship isn’t “good” times, that it is hard. Even with those we walk closest with in this life, there will be times we taste the fruit of brokenness in our relationships.
What are we to do then when friendship hurts?
Communication – As with all relationships in our life, communication is key. If you are someone such as myself who finds pulling teeth to be easier than confrontation, take heart. Before even speaking to your friend, my advice would be to pray. Intentionally set time apart to pray for your friend and the Lord’s heart for your friendship. Walk by the Spirit and wait on the Lord’s lead to approach your friend. The Lord very likely will be working in your friends heart during this time you are setting aside to pray, perhaps without either one of you really even knowing it.
Not every friendship is meant to last forever, many are seasonal, but truly length of days is in the Lord’s hand. If you are meant to part ways, He will let you know.
When it does come time to speak with your friend remember that we fight against the enemy and not flesh and blood. Satan’s plan is to kill, steal and destroy and that includes our friendships. Especially, Christian friendships. Seek to position yourself against the problem rather than your friend.
Attacking your friend or trying to even the playing field “tit for tat” is childish and only plays into the enemies hand.
Keep your words kind, be clear in what your needs are, where your hurt is coming from and what you need to change or work through. Giving clear direction will help your friend to understand what you are asking of them and therefore allow them room to improve.
Be quick to listen – This is where humility comes into play. We have to be willing to listen to our friend, through a heart that’s truly seeking to understand. James tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak.
James 1:19 – Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.
Be willing to ask for forgiveness if your friend brings up hurts you have caused, be willing to improve upon personal behaviors that may be a cause for friction.
Our goal in any sort of conflict should be that we are able to stand before the Lord at the end of our lives with “clean hands” and a pure heart.
It can be really easy to point a finger, but when we do so we must remember we have 3 pointing back at us. Again, we must fight against the issue rather than fellow Image Bearers.
Make sure you are reading the situation correctly – How easy is it for us to automatically get all up in our feelings when we feel we have been slighted by a friend? This is the enemy working to separate and destroy our bonds.
Each of our viewpoints are going to be slightly different and again this is why communicating is so important. A few years ago, my friend had told me about a really neat project she was to be working on in her ministry. I was super excited for her – until she announced she would be partnering with someone else. I didn’t understand why a friend as close as I thought this person was would choose to work on something with someone else.
This friend didn’t do this to hurt me (we were and still are very close) she had chosen to work with someone who had a skillset I did not have to accomplish her goal. I could have completely written her off and been jealous that she didn’t choose me, or I could (and did) go to said friend and explain my ‘hurt’ to see if there was a better explanation than what I was coming up with, and in this case there was.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of communication.
Refuse to gossip – It is really easy, especially for us females, to want to go tell our best friend (or husband, or mom) all about the conflict we are having (and usually why we are the one who is correct). This will only, ever go to adding kindle to the fire. Be someone who refuses to gossip.
If you should need to bring a third party into the situation, do so in a way that keeps your friends best interest at heart. Talk to someone you trust, someone who is wise and can help you negotiate but who will not take sides or cause the problem to become worse.
Friendship is not always easy, but when we learn to navigate through the hard times, we will find that our friendships are made all the stronger because of them.
My encouragement would be to do everything in your power to redeem your friendship from the grip of hurt and go on to build it into the beautiful gift it was before and can still be.
We serve a God who makes beauty from ashes!