Have you ever had a fight with one of your best friends? If I may say so myself, it stinks…big time! No one likes to fight with her BFF, but sometimes it just happens. As much as friendships can be one of the greatest gifts, it can also be a place of pain, hurt, jealousy, and resentment. When the road gets rocky and friendships get tough, how can we as Redeemed Girls deal with conflict well?
Recently I had to face some not-so pretty facts and confess to a dear friend how my pride and insecurity had driven a wedge between us. I needed to ask for her forgiveness but I was so fearful about having this conversation. Why? Because if I was honest then she would see that I actually didn’t have it all together and vulnerability can be a scary terrain to travel. Do you know what happened when I actually built up the courage and called my friend to confess my junk? She graciously forgave me. We were able to be honest with each other in ways we hadn’t been before. A deeper friendship resulted from that hard conversation. The grace she extended to me is such a wonderful picture of the grace Jesus daily extends to me.
As a recovering people pleaser I am not the first one to jump at the opportunity to address conflict. My mind tends to go to worst-case scenarios. Such as …“What if she won’t be my friend anymore?” “What will she really think of me now that she sees the mess?” These thoughts lead to fear that makes me want to run real fast in the opposite direction. A wise friend I have often says, “Conflict dealt with correctly breeds intimacy.” My avoid-conflict-at-all-cost nature shrinks back at this statement, but I feel the Holy Spirit leading me towards this truth. When the Lord calls me to moments of confession, my perfectionism is challenged. God is asking me to vulnerably choose a posture of humility rather then choosing to cower in fear.
As Christians we should be dealing with conflict in a healthy and godly manner. Jesus did not leave us high and dry to figure it out ourselves. He gave us His Holy Spirit to become more and more like Him. We should be using this gift to our advantage. Given that we do live in a sinful, fallen world, friendship troubles are bound to arise. We need the Holy Spirit to equip us to be a good friend, just as much as we need the Holy Spirit to convict us when we haven’t been one. While I do not claim to be an expert on conflict resolution, the Lord has taught me a few essentials on mending broken friendships.
1. Run to the throne before the phone
Marian Jordan Ellis often says, “Make sure you run to the throne before you run to the phone.” It is an easy temptation to pick up the phone to talk about my problem before praying about it. Turning to another friend for comfort or counsel usually leads to gossip, which often times causes even more hurt and division. Even when we’ve been wronged or hurt, we should still believe the best in one another. Bringing the Lord into the problem gives us perspective and wisdom from above. Is there something that I need to confess and ask forgiveness for? Is my heart hardened towards my friend in any way? Am I holding onto bitterness and resentment? All these things need to be addressed with God first.
- Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. -Psalm 32:5
2. Use wise council to your benefit
As I said earlier, I am no expert in this area, which is why talking with an older, wiser person is so beneficial. They help me to see blind spots that I may be unaware of and guide me on how to best handle the situation. Make sure that you are honoring your friend when sharing details. Take for example the scenario I mentioned above with my friend, I talked to my two mentors about it and they were quick to point out my part in the problem and where I needed to love. The purpose of it was not to gossip or share details only about my friend’s sin, but for my sanctification.
- Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory. Proverbs 11:14
3. Be intentional about dealing with the conflict in a timely manner
Time and space are often necessary after a fight, but don’t allow too much time to pass before you address the situation. It may take reaching out more than once to do so, but remember that godly friendships are worth fighting for. Much like a band-aid, ripping it off in one fell swoop is a lot less painful than meticulously tearing it away piece by piece.
- “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. -Ephesians 4:26
4. Apologize well
As I grow in my relationship with the Lord, I am learning that confession is a very normal and a very good part of the Christian life. Jesus never told us we were supposed to be perfect, but He did call us to repentance when we choose our own way rather than His way. Keep in mind scripture tells us to go directly to our friend. Confess to her about the ways you were wrong and messed up. Be specific and avoid generalizations. This requires a humble heart and vulnerability.
- If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. -1 John 1:9
5. If you are on the receiving end of an apology, forgive
Hurts and resentments aside, if we understand how much the Lord has forgiven us, forgiving our friends would be a no brainer.
- Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. -Colossians 3:13
6. Pray together
Pray for the Lord to allow you both to forgive one another. Pray for the Lord to strengthen your friendship. Pray for the Lord to protect you friendship from the enemy. Make praying together a top priority when you talk with your friend.
- Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. -James 5:16
Learning how to deal with conflict well does not happen overnight, but it is so worth it. Take some time to reflect on the verses above and pray about any of your friendships that need mending.
Do you need to confess something?
Mend a hurt that you may have caused?
Ask forgiveness in order to restore your friendship?
The end result of making this effort pays off in a closer friendship. I’ll say the words of my wise friend again because they are just so true! “Conflict dealt with correctly breeds intimacy.”
Blake Snyder, Outreach Coordinator