"Wounds from a Friend are Faithful": How to Have Honest Conversations about Hard Things

"Wounds from a Friend are Faithful": How to Have Honest Conversations about Hard Things

"Wounds from a Friend are Faithful": How to Have Honest Conversations about Hard Things

A few years ago, a friend broke up with me. It sounds dramatic, but that's what it was – a breakup. For years we lived in the same city and were each other’s wing-woman during the unpredictable years as single women. When I got married and moved to a different state, we kept in touch. I visited a few times, and she came to visit me.

It wasn't until after my first daughter was born that our friendship began to drift. One day I sent her an email asking her what happened to our friendship. Her response shocked me and brought me to tears. It read just like a break-up email (or text) from a boyfriend might read. I had gone through enough heartache with boyfriend breakups during my single years to know the verbiage well. There was no real reason, no event where I did something to hurt her. It was just over. She didn't want to be my friend anymore.

Now I have a five-year-old daughter, and I often hear the cry, "She said she doesn't want to be my friend anymore!" I wish I could tell my daughter that one day she and her friends will grow up and know how to be good friends to each other. That's what I thought would happen, at least. You expect friendship drama in childhood and especially in adolescence. But friendship challenges in womanhood blindsided me.

I wish I could say that my friendship breakup was my only difficult friendship situation, but it's not. In fact, it seems the older I get the harder friendship becomes. There are many factors that play into this, but I want to share a few lessons God is teaching me about friendship and how I'm learning to have honest conversations about hard things.

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Is It Worth It?

Is It Worth It?

What I have learned is that not every friendship is worth having a hard conversation over. That sounds harsh, but friendships are not all created equally. It takes discernment to know which ones we should trust to bear the weight of conflict to the end.

Casual Friends vs. Lifelong Friends

As I've gotten older, I've had more casual friendships: friends I meet at work, at my daughter's preschool, or her dance class. I don't immediately put these friends in a box labeled "casual." I try to discern whether we could become lifelong friends. However, when conflict me arises (I get my feelings hurt, something is said out-of-turn, or I'm not invited to an event), I have to discern whether it's worth bringing up to a casual friend. Sometimes it still is, but other times it's not. It takes discernment.

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"The truth is that most of us will have only a handful of lifetime friends, and to be honest, this is better."

"The truth is that most of us will have only a handful of lifetime friends, and to be honest, this is better."

A few questions I ask myself are: "Is this a friendship I'd like to pursue for a lifetime?" "Do I see this friend as a lifelong friend?” and "Is this a heart friend?" A heart friend is someone I connect with on a deeper spiritual level, shares my worldview, and is a sister-in-Christ.

Several years ago, I was told something about friendship that has helped me as I discern the answers to these questions: Friends are in your life for a reason, for a season, or for a lifetime. This does not make one friend more valuable than another. Friends play different roles in our lives. There have been times I've felt like I needed to hold onto a friendship or fight for a friendship that was over (like my example above) or when I've felt bad that I did not contribute more to keep a friendship going. I have to remind myself that each friendship has a purpose. The truth is that most of us will have only a handful of lifetime friends, and to be honest, this is better. Lifetime friends require more time, energy, and investment. We simply don't have enough energy for a multitude of lifetime friends.

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When It's Time to Apologize

When It's Time to Apologize

When I have done something to hurt a friend, whether that friendship is casual or lifelong, I try to go to them and make amends. I'm not always good at this, but I know that is what Romans 12:18 teaches, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."

Not being afraid to say, "I'm sorry," is one of the biggest testimonies to the love of Jesus a person will see. Apologizing is so uncommon in our culture that if a person does not know Jesus personally, seeing me admit and apologize for my wrongdoings raises her eyebrows. She may become curious to know more about what prompted me to apologize.

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A Word about Social Media

A Word about Social Media

Social media is the villain in all our problems today, isn't it? It is helpful in many ways, but I can't say it's the most helpful tool to strengthen friendships.

The biggest tension I have experienced with social media and friendships is that social media gives the illusion that everyone is a lifelong friend. It is fun to see pictures of friends from 20 years ago, but that does not mean they're supposed to again be in your life on a daily basis and know your struggles and your prayer requests.

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"Most of the friendships on social media were either for a reason or a season."

"Most of the friendships on social media were either for a reason or a season."

Most of the friendships on social media were either for a reason or a season. If they were meant for a lifetime, then they would have survived during the gap between knowing the person face-to-face and when social media was invented. Of course, there are exceptions and wonderful stories of lifelong friends rekindling friendships, but for the most part, social media creates a false sense of friendship.

The questions I ask myself as far as social media friends are concerned is, "Do I have this person's phone number?" and "Would I call this person without hesitation?" and "Do I sometimes call this person?" Phone conversations are now my litmus test for friendships. If the answer to these questions is "no," then that person is more of a casual friend than a lifelong friend.

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When You've Discerned It's Worth It

When You've Discerned It's Worth It

Friendships are worth fighting for and can be instrumental in bringing us closer to Jesus. However, for that to happen, they take intention. I could tell many stories of my friendships over the years and struggles we've had to overcome to keep the friendship going. Even though it's never fun at the time, these friendships have ended up meaning the most to me, and they have refined me in ways that others have not. Everyone wants to feel fought for. And a friendship fought for becomes a treasure.

Here are some characteristics that I've found must be present when having honest conversations about hard things with friends:

There Has to Be Maturity

A mature friend cares more about her friend than the point being argued. Sometimes we get caught up in being right instead of seeking reconciliation. And reconciliation does not always look like one person coming to the other person's side. Reconciliation sometimes means agreeing to disagree but doing so with genuine acceptance and love for the other person.

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There Has to be True Love

There Has to be True Love

This sounds cliché and maybe even trite, but 1 Corinthians 13 is a checklist for doing friendship well. We need to go through each verse and ask ourselves, "Am I doing these things? Am I loving my friend well?" One characteristic I see lacking in many friendships is acceptance. Part of true love is accepting who our friends are as people. That's what "[Love] does not insist on its own way" in verse five means. Our friends are not going to share all of our same interests, thoughts, and beliefs. However, as long as they're still based on God's truth, that's okay. We need to be our friend's biggest cheerleaders.

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There Has to Be Authenticity and Vulnerability

There Has to Be Authenticity and Vulnerability

A friendship without authenticity and vulnerability will not withstand the test of years of conflict and struggles that a person experiences in her life. We have to be able to say we're wrong and that we're sorry. There must be mutual humility that we are both broken people working to love Jesus and others. We also have to hear the words, "me too," often. For me, if I cannot connect with a friend out of a place of truth that we are both sinners who need Jesus, then I know the friendship will not survive. Pretense has no place in friendship.

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There Has to be Grace

There Has to be Grace

Grace is what is lacking most in my friendships. I'm slow to give it, and it's slow to be offered. Many times, my expectations for friends are too high. A friend may say something hurtful, not respond to a text, or not invite me to an event. Instead of giving grace and thinking the best of my friend (Philippians 4:8), I think that she's doing it on purpose and is mad at me.

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"There must be grace."

"There must be grace."

Life's burdens overwhelm us all. Our friendships need to be a safe place of grace where we imagine ourselves in their place going through what they're going through. Even in the closest friendships, we don't always know what's going on in the deep places of her heart or her home. There must be grace.

Brenda Rodgers considers herself a “recovering single” after years as a single woman chasing after marriage instead of chasing after Jesus. Now her passion is to mentor young women to live purposefully and grow in their relationship with God and others. Brenda has been married for five years to a heart transplant hero and is the mom of a toddler girl miracle. She is also the author of the eBook Fall for Him: 25 Challenges from a Recovering Single. You can also read more on Brenda’s blog, www.TripleBraidedLife.com and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin and history of specific verses within Scripture context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.

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