Dear Ginger: Losing My Friendship?

Dear Ginger,

My best friend has been pushing me away a lot recently. I have asked her if I did anything to make her not want to be friends anymore, but she says nothing has happened. I don’t want to lose her as a friend, but I don’t know what to do. Any advice? -A

A – I am so sorry that your friendship seems to be filled with unknown conflict. That’s such an uncomfortable feeling. I think the hardest part about relationships is that we only get to control half of the behavior in them. I often think how much less conflict I would have in my life if I could just choose how my friends or family members act! But you don’t get to choose how your friend acts or behaves, you only get to choose your response. I think that can be both freeing and very frustrating at the same time.

I know from experience.

One of my best girlfriends and I went from hanging out every day to barely speaking in a matter of just a few months. There wasn’t a fight. One of us wasn’t jealous of the other. We just stopped hanging out and I didn’t really know why. I kept asking if I had done something wrong. My friend always shrugged it off and acted like our friendship wasn’t really that different. It felt like every time I tried to talk about the distance in our friendship, she just pushed me away even further. I felt hurt and confused. I cried to my mom about it a few times. But eventually I just decided that maybe she needed time. So I stopped checking in every day.

What I didn’t know was that she was going through some really tough stuff with her family. She felt uncomfortable sharing about her home life so she just started shutting people out. Because I asked so many questions she felt like she was lying to me all the time, and she didn’t want to do that. Rather than sharing her hurt, she tried to protect her heart by putting up guards.

I’m happy to say that my friend and I eventually rebuilt our relationship. I am so thankful that she’s in my life. But that season of distance is now a part of our journey as friends. We both wish it could have been different, but all we can do is work toward continuing to build the friendship we have now.

I say all this to let you know that I hear what you are saying and I’ve felt that sort of confusion and pain over a friendship. That season of struggles taught me a few things that I wish I would have known so many years ago.

Give her time. My friend needed to know I was for her, that I would support her, and that I would be there for her whenever she was ready. Instead she felt pressured, frustrated, and like she was being forced into a corner. Patience can bring peace to a tense situation. See Proverbs 15:18…

“A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.” Proverbs 15:18, NIV

Be careful about hanging your happiness on a friendship or relationship. Of course it’s sad to see any relationship change, but we have to know that some friendships are seasonal. This situation may or may not be resolved the way you are hoping. Will you still be able to find joy in the life God has given you even if this friendship doesn’t look the way it always has? Placing our ultimate expectations on anyone but God can lead to some major disappointment and heartache.

“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” Psalm 62:5, KJV

Pray for your friendship. It’s very possible that your friend is going through something that she can’t share. Pray that God would give you the words to say at just the right time. Pray that God would show you if you’ve been in error in some way. Pray that God would restore your friendship. And then ask that He would give you the strength to trust Him no matter what happens.

“And those who know your name put their trust in you,
 for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10, ESV

A- I’m praying for you and your friend. Hang in there.