What I Learned When I Failed to be a Good Friend
Do you have a friendship that needs mending? Alison shares how friendships require tending… and offers convicting yet hopeful words on how to till the special garden we call friendship.
The truth is that I failed to be a good friend for quite a long time.
I let myself believe the lie that friendships don’t require hard work, effort, selflessness, and practice.
Instead, I was trusting that my friendships would remain unchanged despite my lack of intention.
And the result?
My friendships were drowning and I had failed.
I believe that so often we let society rule our relationships – convincing us that friendships should be easy, that we should always gain something great, and that hurt is grounds for checking out.
But John 15:13 reminds us of something completely counter-cultural. “This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.” (MSG)
I have failed to be a good friend.
I have believed the lies of the world. I backed out when I was hurt. I didn’t put effort into reviving the friendship. And I most definitely didn’t love my friends the way Christ talks about loving them.
And in the midst of all of the conviction I was feeling to renew these friendships, I realized that I could not do it alone. I didn’t have the words, the ability, the grace, or the strength to reach out and do the hard work.
In the Old Testament, we are given a beautiful example of the beauty of friendship. “Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself.” (1 Samuel 18:1)
What if I prayed for the strength and wisdom to be this kind of friend – a friend like Jonathan was to David? A friend that loved my girlfriends more than myself.
The task seems daunting, and maybe even impossible.
And yet, it is Biblical and right to revive our friendships, to dig deep and do the work of becoming a good friend.
How do we become women with friendships like that of Jonathan and David?
We make ourselves right before God.
I had failed not only to be a good friend, but I had justified my behavior for months and months. I had truly believed that I was in the right – and because of that, I was unwilling to examine my own heart.
Yes, I absolutely needed to reach out to my friend, but I also needed to ask for forgiveness from the Lord. We are commanded to love others more than ourselves, to lay down our lives for our friends, and to live upright and godly lives. My heart desperately needed cleansing. And God was the only one who could wash me of those sins.
Have you avoided God’s lead or ignored His commandments to love others more than yourself? Ask for forgiveness, and live in grace.
We reach out first.
It’s easy to wait around and hope that our friend will be the first to text, call, email, or message us on Facebook. The reality is that we need to make a decision to act.
Waiting will not solve anything. In fact, as I waited, I became more unsettled, anxious and upset.
Be the first to pick up the phone, dial the number, and offer words of healing. This will not be easy. It will most likely be painful.
What friendship in your life needs healing? After praying and seeking the strength of the Lord, give yourself a timeline for reaching out and igniting the conversation that must happen before healing occurs. For example, choose to call your friend within the next week, or better yet, within the next few days.
Then, do it.
We admit our wrongs.
The first words that needed to come out of my mouth were “I am sorry. I know I hurt you. Will you please forgive me?”
It is humbling to admit that we were wrong and need forgiveness. But if this conversation never happens, how will healing occur?
A friendship laced with wounds and hurt feelings cannot move forward without first having the conversation of admittance and forgiveness.
It may be helpful to write down this part of the conversation before you make the call. What have you done that has hurt your friend? What must you talk about and resolve before moving forward? Make a list of these things, and then name them boldly while asking for forgiveness.
We move forward with the Spirit as our lead.
We live in a broken world. It would be ideal to ask forgiveness, admit our weaknesses, and then move on never to backtrack again.
But the reality is that we will hurt our friends again. And they will hurt us again.
Rather than allowing that hurt to spiral into another broken relationship, look to the example of Jonathan and David. Allow your souls to be knit together in a way that is unbreakable – defined by the Spirit of God constantly working in your friendship.
This means continually having hard conversations, living in grace, admitting our weaknesses and sins, and recognizing that Biblical friendship only happens with the power of God inside of us.
Yes, I failed to be a good friend. The conviction I felt was not comfortable. I had to take the steps to heal and mend that wounded relationship.
God will meet you in moments of failure and give you everything you need to mend the mistake.
In this case, that was a large dose of humility, reliance on His Spirit, strength, and the grace to move forward.
What friendship do you need to mend today? Ask God to meet you there.
Alison is a wife, graduate student, blogger, and Jesus-follower growing in grace and truth daily. She loves coffee in the morning, experimenting in the kitchen, camping with her husband, and reading in a hammock just about anywhere. Her blog – Life of Scoop – exists to encourage authenticity rooted in scandalous grace. Basically, it’s some good soul talk in the midst of the mundane. Follow Life of Scoop on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter.
Beautifully written, Alison! I think we sometimes look at friendships as ancillary and we treat them that way. However, I have found that in the tough and trying stages of life, strong friends are vital and a beautiful impartation of God’s grace and love. Thank you for this reminder.
I love this post. So many times, women crave friendship, but we sabotage ourselves. I know when I’ve struggled because a friend hurt me, usually the advise I get is to drop that person who hurt me – not even explaining why or anything, but to just disappear. God isn’t honored by that and He isn’t honored by me being unforgiving and getting bitter either. I love the tips you shared and I’m writing them down! Because one thing I do know, when you are in relationship with other humans, hurt is inevitable, but grace is always an option. Thanks again for sharing your heart!
“Hurt is inevitable, but grace is always an option.” Wow, I love that. <3 Thank you!
Great post, Alison! Relationships are so tricky and they most definitely take hard work. Sometimes boundaries must be drawn and distance made in a friendship, but most of the time the broken can be fixed. These are such great truths to apply in being a good friend and repairing a a broken friendship.
Blessings and smiles,
Very nicely written, cultivating friendships is so important. Last week I published a post on the 9 elements of deep and lasting friendships based on David & Jonathan.
Truth spoken in love and grace. Thank you for your transparency.
Friendship is so incredibly important to me, and I know that I am a good friend. But I’m now realizing that a former friend of mine is most likely a sociopath with narcissistic tendencies, and that I have a leaning toward codependency. Definitely not a healthy combination. I gave and gave and gave with no reciprocation until I had nothing left, and yet her hands were still outstretched to receive more. After much prayer and pain, I closed the door on the friendship. I’m praying that God will grant me a good and balanced friendship very soon.
I was about to post something very similar here. I’m so glad you brought this up, Cara. I had an experience that sounded a lot like yours. It didn’t start out that way, but 15 years later, , it became less of a friendship and more of a toxic relationship. It not only affected my physical health but my mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing, too.
‘Friendships’ like this are exceptions to the rule, but there are enough of them out there, so thank you for bringing it up.