The Mark Of True Friendship
Early in life, we realize that we will be hurt and will hurt others. No one likes being hurt, but it seems worse when it’s a friend. We know that our friends are imperfect, just like us, yet it still shocks us when it happens. Immediately, we protect ourselves with responses such as anger, defensiveness, gossip and isolation. I hate to say it, but these reactions stem from pride. God challenges us to not live in these responses. He asks us to work through these feelings so that we can start down the road of forgiveness.
Once we start down this road, we need to consider talking to the person who offended us. If we just hide or ignore the hurt, it sets up the relationship for failure and mistrust. Conversations are good, because we may realize that the person didn’t even realize that they hurt us, or maybe we misinterpreted what was said or done. Stop assuming things. Do the hard work and grow the friendship by having the tough conversation.
These conversations must be laced with love. Sometimes we want an apology, to prove them wrong, or feel better about ourselves. While these reasons can be justified, they are not the reasons to have a conversation. Watch out for any hidden agendas. The purpose should always be to grow the relationship by improving intimacy, trust and clarity.
As we enter into these types of conversations, we must realize that we may not end up with an apology, and it may even end with needing to put distance between you. Even without an apology, God asks us to forgive. He asks us to offer forgiveness without expecting anything in return. Forgiveness doesn’t excuse what they did, but what it does do is keep our hearts from becoming bitter and isolated. We are called to forgive and then leave it to God to show the offender how they need to grow and change.
The mark of friendship…true, Biblical friendship is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of a reconciling spirit. We must accept the fact that we will get hurt or disappointed. This is not a reason to give up. Do the hard work and start down the path of forgiveness.