Looking back, I can honestly say that friendships have not been a strong point for me. Throughout school I stayed with a group of friends even though they bullied me, in my teenage years I hung out with the wrong crowd, and as a young adult I found a wonderful group of Christian friends but rather than communicating with them when I suffered from anxiety and comparison, I pushed them away and lost those friendships.
If I could go back and rewrite the mistakes I made with my close Christian friends I most definitely would, it has caused a great deal of guilt and heartache which I have carried for many years. But God has used this time to teach me how to be a better friend and I hope that the lessons I am learning may be helpful for your friendships too.
In every relationship, communication is key. It’s important to be honest with others and to share our thoughts, feelings and opinions in a gentle way, whilst also being ready and willing to listen to others. If someone has hurt you, it is far better to let that person know rather than gossiping about it or putting distance between you without telling them why. Although it may be a difficult thing to do, honest communication is often the right thing to do.
2. Setting Boundaries
Setting and maintaining healthy boundaries in your friendships allows you to decide who you are comfortable sharing with and how much you are comfortable sharing. These boundaries will adapt and change over time as you grow as a person and go through different seasons of life. It’s good to have a few close friends who you are accountable to and who pray for each other, and for each of you to know that what is shared stays within your group.
3. Saying Sorry
As humans, one of the hardest things to do is to admit when we are wrong. But apologising when it’s necessary allows for healing on both sides. We are all flawed and we all make mistakes, and owning up to these mistakes when we have hurt others allows us to share the forgiveness and love of Jesus in our friendships.
4. Facing Loneliness
There are times in our lives where we may not have any close friends, and loneliness can be overwhelming and isolating. It may be that we have moved somewhere new, lost touch with our old friends, or have stepped away from a friendship group that wasn’t healthy. When facing loneliness it is very difficult to look away from our hurt and longing and to look to God instead. It’s important to acknowledge what you are feeling and to then acknowledge that God is greater than our feelings of hurt and disappointment. But it’s also important to bring those feelings to God over and over again, and to ask Him to bless us with the Christ-centred, female friendships that we need.
5. Take a Step Back
Friendships can be overwhelming and tricky at times, so allow yourself to take a step back for breathing space when you need to. Remember to show yourself grace, forgive others, forgive yourself, and look to Jesus as He is our closest and most reliable friend.
Whatever situation you find yourself in when it comes to friendships, the important thing to remember is that God is with you in any situation, and He will help you to learn and grow in your relationship with Him and your relationships with others.