Q. Something’s gone badly wrong between a special friend (not romantic) and me. What can I do about it?
A. God prizes relationships and goes to pains in His Word to protect them whether in the family, between friends or even in the wider social or business context. The chief relationship, of course, is between Him and you. Matt 5:21-26, 18:15-20, are good reads in this regard.
When your friendship broke down you probably spent a lot of time wondering what went wrong – but mostly what your friend did wrong. Something he or she said or did, or didn’t say or do, has distressed you. What was meant? A thousand other questions arise and, since it becomes nearly impossible to be objective when you’re hurt, here are some wiser questions to ask: What is my part in this? What did I do to incite that response? Did I offend in some way? These questions will set you up for the next important step.
God wants you always to take the initiative in seeking reconciliation, whether you’ve done wrong or been wronged. Matt 5:23 tells that if someone has “ought against thee”, you (the offender) should leave your gift “at the altar” and go and be reconciled. Here Jesus makes it clear that being reconciled is a greater priority than your service or ministry. Again in Mark 11:25 He says if you have “ought against any”, you (the offended) must forgive when you pray. Is He suggesting that if you can’t speak to your brother, you can’t speak to Him? You judge! Whatever you conclude, reconciliation is imperative!
So, you have to go to your friend; don’t wait for him or her to take the first step. Now, when you get there, make reconciliation your goal, not “sorting the matter out”, or “giving him a piece of my mind”, or “putting her straight.” Approach your friend with love and humility. Affirm your friend and give him/her an opportunity to respond. You may say something like, “XXX, we’ve been friends for a long time and your friendship means a lot to me. Our relationship has become strained for whatever reason, and I would like to remove the obstacles so that it may be restored. What can I do to bring this about?” If you’re aware of having erred against your friend, quickly admit it and ask forgiveness.
An essential building block in any relationship is walking in forgiveness – forgiving, and asking forgiveness – immediately! Now this may sound like giving in or losing face, but it isn’t. You will need all God’s grace and help – and He will give these gladly. Even if your friend doesn’t want to reconcile, you still do the right thing. God will sustain you and work in your friend’s heart.
Although this sounds like you’re losing the upper hand, you aren’t. Do what you can and trust the Lord for restoration. After all, hurt relationships will plague you and occupy your thoughts. Resolving the situation may take time, but, apart from regaining your friend, your relationship with the Lord will have grown somewhat.
Finally, remember that any relationship needs constant double-sided building; work at your relationships; let them glorify God.