By: Bailey T. Hurley
The phone rang and rang. This was the third time this month I was trying to reach her. We had just celebrated her marriage a few months earlier and she was working two jobs. I knew she was busy, but a simple text or a voicemail would let me know that she at least still cared about our friendship. No answer. I put the phone down and stared at the wall. Did she really not want to be my friend anymore? What did friendship even mean to her? Clearly, we weren’t as close as I thought we were. Disappointment and hurt seeped in. Maybe we were done. Maybe this friendship was over.
The truth is, most friends will hurt our feelings at some point. Just give them time. Every one of us has experienced a friend that took a joke too far or stopped spending time with us. Sadly, the list could go on and on about the ways we can hurt each other.
What does this mean for our communities? How do we move forward when we’ve been hurt or (eep!) have hurt others ourselves? It may seem like a simple solution: talk it out face-to-face and forgive. As pop-princess Taylor Swift sings, however, “Band-Aids don’t fix bullet holes,” and we know that relationships are more complex than a simple conversation can fix. There needs to be a deeper, more Gospel-centered way to work through relationship heartbreaks.
Recognize The Situation for What It Is
One of the toughest parts of conflict is to see yourself in the wrong. There are two sides to every conflict and it’s much easier to accuse a friend for her misdoings than to give her grace in the situation. But Romans 3:23 reminds us that “all sin and fall short of the glory of God.”
If you’re having a hard time being objective about a situation, stop and write out the facts. I’m an emotionally-driven person, so it’s hard for me to separate my feelings from the reality of what’s actually taking place. In the situation I described above, I could ask myself, Is my friend working a lot? Yes. Does she have a new marriage that is important to cultivate? Yes. Do we have a history of faithful friendship? Yes. Would she purposefully hurt any of her friends? No. The list goes on.
Keeping our thoughts centered on a solid foundation—our ever-forgiving God—saves our emotions from going in all different directions.
God has redeemed us even in the depths of our sin, which means our relationships with others can also be redeemed. When we remember the great gift of God’s grace, we can more freely offer it to our friends.
Grace is not a quick Band-Aid we place on the broken parts of our friendships; it’s a long, slow, transforming process that roots itself deep down into our relationships and heals what was once damaged. It requires swallowing our pride and choosing to believe the best in one another, but in the end, it makes our friendships stronger and healthier.
Recognizing the best qualities about our friends makes the grace-giving process better, but not easier. The only reason we are capable of offering grace is because Christ offered it for us first. He restores us back to Him so that we can make peace with the past and regain healthy friendships. According to the world’s standards of friendship, grace doesn’t makes sense, but that’s why God’s community is set apart. When we engage in Godly relationships, we’re required to become weak sometimes so that God’s healing power can introduce grace into even the hardest parts of our hearts.
This is scary… but I bet there’s someone in your life right now that needs to receive grace from you. Heck, I need to do it right now, too. You have been given grace—now in return, give grace to your friend.
Note from WM: This article was originally published on Bailey’s website, baileythurley.com. We invite you to check it out and read more of her great pieces!
Bailey T. Hurley is everyone’s favorite community cheerleader. She encourages women to pursue a faithful relationship with God so they can build fruitful friendships in their corner of the world. She has written on the topic of friendship and faith for publications like Rising Tide Society, Grit and Virtue and She Reads Truth. She also loves podcasts! You can find her chatting all about friendship on Sally Clarkson’s podcast Life with Sally, Kristin Schell’s podcast At the Turquoise Table, and a dozen more.
Bailey holds an MA from Denver Seminary in leadership and uses her degree to lead a community group with her family, serving 20 men and women every week in their home. Plus, she hosts her own friendship workshops for the ultimate friend date experience. She currently lives in Denver, CO with her husband, Tim, and kiddos: Hunter, Liv ,and Henri. You can find more resources and say hello at baileythurley.com.