Do you struggle with how to heal from a broken friendship, or wonder how to forgive a friend who has become a frenemy? When a friend hurts you deeply, it is hard to have a godly response. Here’s my story.
Tick. Tick. Tick. Kaboom.
When I walked into church lobby that Sunday, I was completely unaware that a verbal nuclear bomb of sorts was set to explode. My back was marked with a big, fat, red bullseye and the enemies fiery darts landed dead center. Her verbal campaign didn’t stop there. That same afternoon the phone rang, and I had hoped to hear an apology, or at least get a word in edge-wise. Nope, round two was far worse than the first and it cut much, much deeper. This cycle went on for months.
When I hung up the phone, the numbness of the days events gave way to a flood of tears, and torrents of anger. My heart was being plundered by a frenemy, and I was helpless to know how to handle it God’s way.
How could she say such awful things?
Why would she do that?
3 Godly Responses When a Friend Hurts You Deeply
Have you ever had to deal with epic fallout from a Christian friend who turned into a frenemy? Have you ever been in a situation where you felt there was no way out, and your reputation, as well as your integrity, were at the mercy of a mercenary? How do we have a godly response to the deep hurt that is caused by a frenemy? These are a few tips that helped me back on my spiritual feet.
1. Step back and own your role.
I had to own my part. Even though I was in the line of fire, I came to the realization there was a sliver of truth to a few of her hurtful statements. I had to step back and honestly ask myself a few questions.
- How have I offended her?
- Did I speak the truth, but fail to speak it with love?
- What did I say or do that was misunderstood?
- How did offense and sin enter into our relationship?
- Am I being defensive and not recognizing my faults?
I hung my head in shame and realized that some of those answers reflected the yuck in me. I was guilty of feeding the problem, and I needed God’s perspective on this heartache.
True. We participated in gossipy “prayer requests”, and brushed off the off a few grey areas as “just being real with each other”. But, my conscience came away from conversations feeling wrong about things that were said, and topics that were covered. At the time, I rationalized it all away. My husband saw obvious red flags at the beginning of our friendship, but I chose to not come under his wisdom, and went merrily on my way down friendship lane all the way to that fateful church lobby bombshell.
God sets up flags for a reason, and I chose not to heed the warnings because I was desperate for friendship, and wanted to be included.
I had to own my part.
2. Learn from the pain, and get God’s perspective.
The fruit that is produced in a relationship matters, and I had lost God’s perspective of friendship somewhere along the way.
What was a deep 11-year friendship somewhere took a turn toward deep bitterness in her soul. She tore other people to shreds with her words over the years, but she would never do that to me, right? After all, we were friends.
Little did I know she was gathering as many troops around her to strike at my heart, and my family as well. Not just one strike, but a barrage of awful gossip, and slander until the rumor mill was overflowing with sludge.
God gave me the beautiful blessing of permanent heart scars from my frenemy, in order to free me from my own sin.
It was a blessing in disguise.
What did I learn from the multiple lashings of a frenemy?
I learned how to better guard my own tongue.
I learned to pay attention to warning signs and be discerning about godly influences in my inner circle.
I learned to pray to my Father instead of confiding in an untrustworthy sister.
I may have a circle of friends, but only one or two are heart sisters–know the difference.
Surrendering my friendship to the Lord’s discerning eye is a beautiful thing, for all parties involved.
Birds of the same feather, flock together. Don’t be a bird-brain. You will become who you hang with.
It was only years down the road that I could see my Father’s hand in removing me from those toxic relationships. Had our family stayed, and tried to pick up the pieces, the damage would have been catastrophic.
The Lord knew what He was doing. And sister, He knows what He is doing in you life as well.
3. Forgive the friend who hurt you.
The next morning after the first explosive confrontation, I sat down for my quiet time. I remember asking God to show me how to navigate my gaping heart wound.
Through my swollen eyes and tearful sniffles, I asked God to forgive me for my rancid thoughts toward her, and for the sin that I committed throughout the friendship. I knew in my heart the friendship would be over, but I wanted to take the high road as much as humanly possible.
Out of sheer duty, I opened up my morning devotional and found the correct date, and at the top was this passage.
“You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:18
I slammed that devotional shut-HARD. Really HARD. And I physically cried out. “But, I don’t know how, God! I don’t know how to forgiver her. I don’t know how to love her after the malicious slander that was spreading like wildfire!”
My bitter tears began to well up all over again. That’s when I new God was going to be doing open-heart surgery on me without anesthesia.
Love? Forgive without a grudge? Big insurmountable task without Christ.
God let me sit in that emotional stew for quite some time. I didn’t know how to love her, but He could through me.
I had to let Him transform my heart, and realign my mind with His truth through repentance. Deep repentance.
He reminded me of the years that I treated Jesus in the same manner that I had just been treated, and He gently continued to love me despite my despicable actions. If anyone on earth had a right to hold a grudge, it was Jesus. But, He didn’t, and He was asking me to do the same.
I learned I was only responsible for my sins, not hers.
My job was to love like Jesus, and leave the rest at His cross.
He asked me to turn the other cheek, and establish healthy boundaries. In time, He taught me how to truly pray for her at a distance, release her to her own path, and go the second mile even when it was not reciprocated, or appreciated.
I would love to say that I handled everything perfectly. Far from it. The problem got worse before it got ever better. The fall-out was spread wide and the hurt was deep as a canyon.
Forgiving and releasing caused painful yanks on my heart strings, but it eventually brought a soul-peace that is priceless. Even though the friendship has ended, I have no ill-will toward her, and I pray the Lord is changing her heart as much as He has changed mine.
When a friend hurts you deeply, it’s ok to set her free to take a different path in life. It’s okay to let God take care of the aftermath, too.
Fast-forward. God is restoring the years the locust have eaten in ways I could not imagine. He gave me new godly friends, a biblical church, and a thriving ministry. I truly believe that season of my life was for my good because it taught my life-long lessons. Would I want to go through it again? Absolutely not.
Only God can redeem that kind of darkness.
If your heart has been wounded by a close friend, and now they feel like an enemy, I would encourage you to take it to the Greatest Physician ever known. You can’t heal by talking maliciously about her, by manipulative retaliation, or even by ignoring her.
Our faithful God is in the suffering, surrendering, and setting free-on both sides of the pew.
Would you pray with me?
Father God, You don’t waste painful moments, and right now I am hurting. These hurtful words and sinful actions not only grieve my heart, but Yours as well. Your word tells me that I should go the second mile and turn the other cheek. I don’t know how. So God, give me the strength to stand firm and trust You as you show me how to love unconditionally and yet set healthy boundaries. I pray for my frenemy. Bless her on her spiritual journey. Give me a repentant heart and own my part. Give me the grace to forgive. Give me the courage to not repay evil for evil. Guard my testimony, my integrity, and my heart as I seek Your glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
11 Bible Verses for when you are involved in a toxic friendship
- Proverbs 16:28: “A perverse man spreads strife, And a slanderer separates intimate friends.”
- Proverbs 20:19: “He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, therefore do not associate with a gossip.”
- James 1:26: “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.”
- Proverbs 11:3: “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”
- Psalm 55:21: “His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.”
- Romans 12:18: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
- Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
- Matthew 12:33-35: “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit…For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil.”
- Proverbs 13:3: “The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”
- 1 Peter 3:16-17: “…keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.
- Proverbs 13:20: “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”