How to Build Lasting Friendships: Acknowledging Hurts & How to Fight Fair
We've come to the final installment of my series on friendship. Today, we're tackling the hard issue of acknowledging when someone has hurt you and how to show grace in the process.
I was a sophomore in college. Standing across the kitchen counter from my best friend and trying in vain not to cry all over the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies I'd just pulled from the oven. My feelings had been hurt. She hadn't invited me to hang out with her and our other friends, assuming instead that I'd be spending time with my new boyfriend. Which, in her defense, was an accurate assumption. We realized that in order to make our friendship work, we both needed to try a little harder. After acknowledging our wrongs, we forgave and moved forward. Forgiveness being one of the key words.
Now imagine if I had never told her how I was feeling? She would have gone on oblivious to my hurt, and I would most likely have grown resentful. We can't expect others to always know how we feel. Half the time I don't even know how I feel! A ten minute conversation was all it took to prevent our friendship from growing apart.
At this point in our friendship we can now recognize when we've hurt one another. It's not uncommon for one of us to send a text along the lines of, "Hey, I realized when I said ____ that could have been hurtful. I'm sorry if it came across that way." Confrontation is no longer a big deal, and we often laugh about it afterwards, claiming how thankful we are for one another. Don't be afraid to admit when you're in the wrong.
Friendships often fall away because there is hurt on one or both sides. It's inevitable. After all, we're broken people in a broken world. Sometimes the hurt inflicted is too great, and it is best to move on. However, I have found that the friendships I fight for are the ones that have lasted the longest.
Confronting someone and admitting they hurt you can be awkward. It can be just as hard to say those words as it is to hear them. Are you willing to throw away years of friendship just to avoid a few moments of discomfort? Most of the time people aren't even aware of the hurt they have caused, so let's give them the benefit of the doubt.
"As iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another."-Proverbs 27:17
It's going to take some effort, there may be some heated sparks, but in the end you will be a better and more valuable friend because of it.
Do you hate confrontation? Here's a few tips on how to fight fairly and graciously:
1. Avoid absolutes such as "never" and "always"
If you start a conversation by saying "you never hang out with me anymore" or "why do you always leave your dishes in the sink," the other person will most likely go on the defensive. Instead, try phrasing it more positively..."I miss hanging out with you. Let's get together next ___." Or "I've noticed you leaving your dishes in the sink. I would really appreciate it if you put them in the dishwasher."
2. State how you feel so they're not left guessing.
This is the best way to avoid any misunderstandings and get to the root of the issue. Don't give them the cold shoulder so they're left guessing what went wrong. State it clearly and concisely. "When you do _____ it makes me feel _____." To use the scenario I mentioned earlier, I would've said something along the lines of "When you don't invite me to hang out, it makes me feel sad."
3. Play it back
To make sure you're actually listening and understanding one another, paraphrase what they just said and say it back to them. "What I'm hearing is that you're upset because I don't seem to value your friendship." They can either confirm or clarify that statement so you're on the same page.
4. Show grace
Above all, show grace. No one is perfect. Offer forgiveness and don't hold it against them.
I hope you have enjoyed this series! My prayer is that you've walked away challenged and encouraged to pursue lasting, Godly friendships.
How do you build lasting friendships? What are some of the characteristics in a friend that are most important to you?