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What would you do if you gave up your friend because you thought they didn't want to hang out with you, and you had a really awkward relationship with them? Why does God let friendships be broken? Should I talk to this person or should I just forget about it? Am I dreaming or not? If I'm not, then the pain should have already killed me at this point.
First I would like to say I am sorry that you are going through this; losing a friend is never easy, especially if they were important to you. Sadly this happens, it has happened to me, it has probably happened to your friend and it will happen again. This is not to say there is no hope, because I have also seen friendships mended and new and exciting friendships start. I don’t have a single friend from my childhood that I converse with regularly, but over the years I have had many amazing friends, I have new friendships growing and expect more in the future. I know this doesn’t make the pain of loss any less, but it is important to understand that this is a normal thing. So the real question is why? Why does this happen, why do we have to deal with this loss and why doesn’t God fix it.
Friendships no matter how close and how strong have one thing in common and that is two sinners. You are a sinner and they are a sinner; this means that at some point one or both of you will sin against each other, many times without even knowing it. This is probably the most important thing I can ever teach you, besides the Gospel message. This goes for all relationships; I could easily list several examples where I have sinned against my wife and her against me, not in what people would consider the big things, but still sin. If that is the case then why am I still married to my wife after five years? It is because love conquers all. Now I don’t mean the fluffy, touchy, feely, bastardized version of love that the culture is selling, I mean the kind of love God describes to us in 1 Corinthians 13. This is the type of love that brought Jesus to the cross for a bunch of people who sinned against Him constantly and hated Him. Unfortunately this is not the kind of love/friendship that most people show on a regular basis, which is why relationships in general don’t always last. This does not mean that the cause for your loss is sin on either of your parts, but it could be.
As sin is a part of every relationship, communication is exceptionally important. I am not talking about how we communicate, but how well. In today’s world we have so many ways to communicate, but so little communication of real depth is happening. I meet couples all the time who are engaged, married or at least been together for quite some time that haven’t addressed the important deeper questions, which I won’t list here. With my wife and I, we discussed most of the same questions in the first 3 months of knowing each other, even before we started dating. Now I know friendships are a little different, but that doesn’t change the fact that you need to talk about things, no matter how awkward it seems. If you feel they don’t want to hang out with you, talk to them, they may not respond in the way you would like, but you would know what they were thinking. The not knowing always causes more grief and if you think that friendship is ending already, there is nothing to lose. No matter what happens with this friendship please take this to heart for all your other relationships. Look at 1 Corinthians 13 and think about how you can live it out in your friendships, you can only control your side of the friendship, but you will likely find better friends if you make sure you are a better friend first.
The last thing I want to address is why does God allow this to happen, why doesn’t he heal all our relationships. This is a challenging question, though not because it is a difficult answer, but because we are double-minded in many ways. We as humans want God to let us do what we want and in the same breath we want Him to fix everything. This is a contradiction because in order for God to fix our relationships he would have to take away our choice which means He would have to turn us into automatons, otherwise we would resent Him and then eventually our friends for our loss of choice. So God gives us the tools to have good relationships and works with us, through the Holy Spirit, to have them, but in the end we decide how we actually conduct ourselves in these friendships. I would also say that some friendships are actually designed for a time and then we are to let them go. An example from my own life is when I got divorced, out of a very bad relationship, God, through my sister, brought a friend in my life who was going through the same thing. Through our similar positions and feelings we were able to help each other work through our pain. Our friendship did not even last the year and though I was sad to see her go, I realized over time that other than that one piece of our live we really didn’t have much else in common, though I thank God as often as I think of her that he brought her into my life and that He used her to nudge me back to Him. In the end some friendships are meant to be shorter term and some you will have for many years, but if you make sure that you are the best friend you can be, you will at least know that you did your best to make your friendships great and lasting, which is what we are meant to do, as it says in Colossians 3, in everything you do, do it with all your heart, as if you are doing it for God not anyone else.
In conclusion I want you to know that I am not minimizing the pain at all, I know that pain, but I am trying to help you understand that some friendships will come and go, but that does not mean they don't have worth. Put yourself out there and be the best friend you can be and trust God to help you through the pain and disappointment.
The short answer is that we are different and we will always be different. There are some rare exception but most close friendships are not cross gender. The world is trying to sell us the lie that because men and women are equal that means we are the same. The truth is men and women want different things and are driven by different things. This doesn’t mean that you won’t have friends of the opposite gender at all, but that most cross gender friendships don’t last or aren’t as close. To be honest from a guy’s perspective, most of the time if we have a friend that is a girl we are interest in more. Most men will not admit to that, but it is generally true. So there is generally a separation between guys and girls that really is only truly bridged in marriage. That is why marriage requires compromise.
I remember High School and the pressure to fit in, but the truth is trying to be someone you are not will always end in disaster. The reason for this is twofold, first you are, in truth, literally lying to your friends. Friendship is based on trust, in fact it needs it! Friendship without trust is like a computer without a hard drive, you might technically have a computer, but it’s not really useful. Secondly, God has made you a certain way, being what you are not will always leave you unhappy. Be yourself and anyone who does not accept who you are is not really your friend. Always look for people who appreciate you for you, that is the only way you can be truly happy.
It is important to see yourself the same way that God sees you, because based on how you see yourself you will conclude what your worth is and how valuable you are. I quote I love is, “I may not be perfect, but Jesus thinks I am to die for!” God sent his only some to die the worst death imaginable so that he could be your friend, that’s how valuable you really are.
Well the first honest statement is probably one you don’t want to hear, but they might really like their other friends more and sometimes that is just the way it goes. Whether that is the case or not, the only thing you can really do is be a good friend. Look at yourself and see if you are being the best friend you can be. Let’s talk about some things that are necessary to be a good friend.
1. Take a genuine interest in others.
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you (Dale Carnegie).”
When we listen to others and show real interest in what is important to THEM, we will begin to truly love and understand them. We all want to feel important and everyone has something to offer, we need to search for it, find it and bring it out. We can only do this if we focus on them, not ourselves.
2. Be a giver, NOT a taker.
“Ask not what your friends can do for you, but rather what you can do for your friends (Simon and Schuster).”
So what can you give your friend? What about smile, a hug, a kind or an encouraging word? How about a listening ear, a prayer, an encouraging note, or help with an errand, problem or need? There are many things you can offer your friends if you take care of #1. This may take time or sacrifice on your part, but that is part of what love and friendship are all about, as Jesus showed us on the cross.
3. Be Loyal
Loyalty is slowly becoming extinct in a world where self-obsession is common. People’s idea of love is a feeling that exists only as long as they are getting what they want. Many people would follow God if it meant they could do whatever they want. Loyalty though is essential for long-lasting, true friendships. One way we show our loyalty is through our words, or often lack thereof. In fact, a major part of being loyal is keeping a tight rein on our tongues. If we’re loyal, we won’t tear a friend down behind her back or share her personal story without her permission. It’s easy to gossip or pass judgment; it’s much harder to keep silent. A loyal friend builds up and doesn’t destroy.
4. Appreciate your differences
We all want to talk about or do the things that we want, but we need to look at this from the other person’s perspective. What if everything was done their way? How would you feel? Along with the variety of interests we have a variety of faults. This means if your friend does or says something that hurts, you have to take the Matthew 7 approach and remember that you have faults as well. This doesn’t mean that you don’t talk about what they have done, or allow them to bring up something you have done, but it means that it should be a helpful discussion, full of forgiveness, not an accusatory one. An old Turkish proverb states, “Whoever seeks a friend without a fault remains without one.” The truth is, we will never find a perfect friend here on this earth (except Jesus). So let’s appreciate our differences, both the good and the bad.
5. Be Open, Honest and Real
The word hypocrite originally described actors on a stage that covered their faces with masks to conceal their real identities. Today the word describes people who pretend to be something they’re not. True friendship cannot be built on false images. We must be true to ourselves. We may think we have to present a faultless picture of ourselves to the rest of the world, but why? No one wants to be friends with someone who is perfect, because this will break down your friend who knows that they are not perfect. Also this is the quickest way to end a friendship, for at some point you will do something that destroys this perfect image of you, which leads to a destruction of trust and the end of the friendship. We simply need to be our best selves and allow people to know the real us.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10