This is the second post in a two-part series. To see the first part, go here. The series is about friendships.
Be forewarned. This post is looooooong. And may make you emotional, if my emotional state in writing it is any indication. Take it in pieces if you need to.
As I stated previously, I know full-well how blessed I am in the area of friends. Really, how blessed I am in general.
I realize that there are those who might have looked at my last post and thought, “Well aren’t you just so special? Must be nice to have all those friends.” And let me tell you something, it really is special, and yes it is nice. But I’m not immune to the realities of close friendships.
When you are so close to people, chances are that you’re going to collide every once in a while. And most often (though not always), it won’t be on purpose. Relationships between two broken people will inevitably and inherently be broken.
Last week I talked about a few different types of friendships I have in my life. Though it was by no means an exhaustive list, it’s a good representation of the blessings God has given me through friendships. That was the “good” part.
This week, I’d like to talk about a few different kinds of hurt that occur within friendships. This is the “bad and forgiven” portion.
**Note: All quotes from here on out are from “Becoming Myself”, by Staci Eldredge.**
One of the first ways to get bumped and bruised is unintentional hurt.
A wise, kind-hearted, well-meaning friend would never intentionally hurt you where they know they can hurt you the most – playing off of your biggest insecurity, or belittling your most treasured dream. They would never say anything unkind on purpose.
“Misunderstanding one another is so easily and frequently done, it’s a miracle any relationship survives.”
When I went away to college, I went to a school about an hour away from my best friend (from the last post). Her school started a few weeks before mine did, so she left home first. She had a roommate who was difficult to live with, and things weren’t going as planned for her. She called me more than once crying lonely tears, counting down the days until we would be closer to each other again.
The problem came after my first few rough days at school. I found a groove, and I started having a great time. I did a lot of damage to my friend in the span of a few weeks. I was hurtful in that I didn’t even consider her aches much. I basically left her in the dust, and it was cruel. It wasn’t intentional to completely disregard her, but it was a direct result of my lack of noticing her, and it resulted in a fight.
To this day, it is our worst fight. In the end, we decided that maybe it just wasn’t in the cards for us to be friends anymore.
It was a time of terrible aching for both of us. We missed each other so much, but in our stubbornness, and in the midst of our hurt feelings, we were both too proud to admit it. She ended up joining a sorority and making some really great friends, and I was glad she had at least found a life she could enjoy.
I remember the first time we really “talked”, months after our fight. It was over MSN instant messaging (remember that?!). We both got about two sentences into the conversation, and both admitted that we missed each other so much. I don’t know about her, but I was bawling on my end. Our reconciliation is one of the biggest weights lifted off my shoulders I’ve ever experienced.
I have unintentionally said things on numerous occasions that have hit a nerve in the friends closest to me, and it pains me so much. It is horrifying to me that I could say something that would cause a friend pain, but it’s inevitable. It’s inevitable that the same would happen to each of us – someone will no doubt say or do something that will cut to the core, and they may not even be aware!
Other times, there may be something that needs to be discussed, and one or both of you knows that it will be a little painful to walk through that discussion. This kind of hurt occurs when a person feels led to provide correction or honesty.
This is when a friend, in love, can bank on your closeness – your mutual love and respect for each other – to tell you a hard truth. This is something that I have been very convicted about. I believe that it is so important to be honest with your friends — to a point.
When one of my close friends brings me a complaint, a story, or a situation in which I feel they are in the wrong, I often will try to lovingly point out where I think they’ve been wrong.
However, speaking the truth is not always loving. Staci says that “when we don’t speak the truth in love, it is no longer truth.” If we are being too honest in the spirit of not keeping secrets, or of getting something off our chest, we are almost without a doubt wounding our friend.
Our culture values honesty, but sometimes honesty is not the kindest thing. Nowhere in the Bible does it command us to tell all truth all the time. Speaking truth in love requires that we discern which truths to speak, and sometimes it means that we keep our mouths closed.
All of us have felt the hurt that accompanies the loss of or the end of a friendship.
Moves, graduations, new jobs, births, growing up…these are all realities of life, and are naturally logical endings to many friendships. They’re difficult, but often, they’re mutual and necessary.
But when a friendship ends because of betrayal, resentment, or unforgiveness, the result is more often than not some of the deepest pain you’ve experienced.
“Who among us has not suffered betrayal at the hands of a trusted friend? Who among us has not shrunk away in response to being hurt?”
Think about it — who can hurt you more? Someone who doesn’t know much about you, or the person who knows you best? The person who is closest to you is someone into whom you’ve probably invested a lot. A lot of time, action, and emotion. As someone’s close friend, you know their deepest fears, regrets, and insecurities. You also know their greatest achievements, hopes, dreams, and loves. And they know yours.
This is something that I have begun working through myself. Just recently I became aware of a betrayal of a person with whom I was very close in the past. The betrayal of this friend is fresh, even though the friendship is not. While we are no longer close friends, and have not been for some time, this was a hard pill for me to swallow.
The pain, though not quite as fresh as during its revelation, still sometimes takes my breath away. When I realized our friendship was fading, I had no ill-will toward this friend, just an understanding that life was taking us in different directions. Later, I began hearing from various people that this friend was talking about me in very negative ways to multiple people – saying hurtful things about me, about my family, about the way I live my life.
“How much worse it is when a friendship ends because of offenses, misunderstandings, anger, or betrayal. How searingly painful it is when God calls you to walk away from a cherished friend when love and unity have left the relationship.”
When I heard of this betrayal, it took me some time to come to the conclusion that dwelling on our previous friendship, the hurt and anger I was feeling toward her, imagining conversations I wish I could have face-to-face, feeling resentment for all the time invested and seemingly wasted was eating me up.
Staci discusses a very important component to friendships – soul ties.
“Jonathan and David had a very special bond: ‘After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself’ (1 Sam. 18:1). The King James Version translates it this way: ‘the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David.’”
Bonds between people can often exist on a deeper level. On the soul level. We see this in marriages, as well.
If a soul tie is unhealthy, it will create chaos in a friendship. This is what was happening to me. The bond that was so healthy before quickly soured. Yet we were still connected on that soul level, and it was eating me alive.
“With some people it feels as if they are sucking the life out of you. That is because they are sucking the life out of you. There is an ungodly tie there. You need to break it.”
This is what I realized I needed – I needed to break this tie between us. It took a really broken, heartfelt prayer (or ten) to completely let my bond be broken.
Let me say this to avoid confusion. Breaking a soul tie doesn’t mean complete rejection of that person. It was just the acknowledgement that our friendship was no longer bound in our souls. It allowed me to stop obsessing and stop being controlled by my hurt. It gave me the presence of mind to invite Jesus into my hurt and give me the peace I so desperately needed in letting her go.
I’ve realized in all the hurt I’ve experienced through friendships that the only true friend I’ll ever have is Jesus. He calls Himself my friend.
“…I have learned [this truth] the hard way – the beautiful freeing truth that Jesus is the only One who can satisfy me. He’s actually the only one who is meant to!”
Jesus is waiting for me. He has never left me, never betrayed me. He’s been the only friend to really give me a true sense of who I am. He promises that He isn’t going anywhere. He loves me in the most perfect way, and for that I am grateful.
It is because of this true Friend, who has died to forgive me and be in close relationship with me, that I am able to forgive those friends who have hurt me. And by the grace of God, I have been able to maintain so many of those friendships where each of us has experienced pain.
He has provided friends for me that have been a huge blessing, and for that I am so grateful.
“And what an extraordinary gift it is on this side of paradise to be known and enjoyed here. Friendship is meant to offer us that.”
I pray that through each of my friendships, we will be forever shaping each other into a more perfect image of Jesus.
Have you ever had to break soul ties with a friend? Have you ever caused or been the recipient of unintentional hurt? How has Jesus healed your heart from the inevitable bumps and bruises we experience in friendships?