Girl friendships are hard for me. When I was in high school I had my core group of 4 other girls, and we did everything together. From the time the bell rang after school, as long as I didn’t have cheer practice (yes—I was THAT girl), we were spending time together, shopping, eating, getting our nails done, etc. Yes, we sound like we were a part of a cheesy high school movie, but the point is that we were inseparable.
Come college, however, this all changed. As I went away to school, and everyone stayed behind, our friendship shifted completely and I experienced the first of many “friend-breakups” that were to come over the next few years. I would receive text after text of disapproval of how I did not come home every weekend, how they felt I wasn’t making an effort to keep up our friendship, and ultimately how I was breaking their hearts. 18-year-old me was crushed to know that I was hurting people I loved and there was nothing I could do about it. I was studying my little tush off like never before and needed weekends to try to stay afloat in my studies.
Eventually the phone calls and texts stopped, communication ended, and we all went on our ways. I’m not saying any of us handled this situation well, but this little cut began the cycle of “friend-breakups” where I was at a loss for words as to how to handle the situation and ultimately how heal from it. From a short season of friendships with verbal abuse, to a betrayal over a guy I was seeing, I would like to say I wear my scars proudly because I have healed from them. But if I am being honest, I am still very awkwardly navigating this path of friendships.
So how do we forgive the sister in Christ who has beaten our heart to a pulp?
1. Pray for them. I think the hardest part about forgiving someone is that we don’t know where to start. I’ve learned to start with prayer. Why? Because I am often completely unready to let go of the hurt and pain and let the person walk away scotch free. When I pray for them, I am opening MY heart up to God to work on.
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28
I won’t tell you what to pray in these moments—I will recommend this though, start by being honest with God and ask him to switch your heart from hate and hurt to sisterly love and forgiveness.
2. Create some distance. Often in a “friend-breakup” that person is still in our friend group, and therefore still in our lives. I am not recommending you make a huge deal and tell them you need space, however if you see they are going to a mutual friend activity and you feel that their presence is going to make you uncomfortable, or backslide you into bitterness, MAKE OTHER PLANS. Time doesn’t heal all things, God heals all things and often He will use space and time as tools to do so.
3. Don’t dwell on it. You have the power to control where your mind wanders. If you are constantly thinking about the betrayal or the hurt that you are experiencing, you are never going to move forward. Think of your brain like a television and the hurt you are experiencing like a channel. When you catch yourself thinking about it, switch the channel to something else. Don’t get stuck watching re-runs.
We were designed to live in community, with rich, God-honoring friendships. As we move forward on our journey of becoming today, how are you choosing to heal and forgive those friends who have crushed you?