Do you have a friend in your life who acted…unfriendly? Perhaps you had a falling out or they said something hurtful to you. You don’t want to lose the friendship, but you’ll have to have a conversation in order to restore trust. Or maybe you know the friendship is over, but you feel like it ended poorly.
Whatever the case, confrontation is probably necessary. If that scares you, just know this: No one likes confrontation! But confrontation in and of itself is not a bad thing. It’s the way to peace and godly relationships.
When we spend our lives avoiding confrontation and conflict, we can never work through negativity to resolution. God calls us to resolve our issues with other people in person, with grace. That means someone has to initiate the discussion, and it might have to be you. Before going into the conversation, ask yourself the following five questions.
- Can I discuss this with an objective attitude? Before talking to your friend, do a heart check. Can you look at the situation objectively? Can you bring up the issue without getting angry? It’s possible to be angry and not sin (Ephesians 4:26). But if your anger causes you to despise a fellow image-bearer of God and deny them the grace God has shown you, that’s not the right way to handle the situation.
- Have I brought this to the Lord? Second, have you talked to the Lord about the situation? Before facing your friend and discussing this, ask the Lord for wisdom and kindness. Pray about what to say. Don’t go into the situation seeking justice, but resolution. You will need wisdom, strength, patience and self-control to do this—all fruits of God’s Spirit in you!
- Am I ready to forgive? Third, are you ready to forgive if your friend repents? Forgiveness is not a one-time thing. It’s a daily decision to commit someone to God’s justice and grace; to cease holding them accountable to us. Forgiveness might be chosen over and over until it becomes an attitude of the heart.
- Should this relationship continue? Just because you forgive the person does not mean the relationship should continue or be rejuvenated. It’s possible to forgive someone and still have boundaries. Trust needs to be rebuilt, and even then, not all relationships are meant to continue after a breach. Sometimes the best thing for you both is to go your separate ways, forgiven.
- Can I accept their response? What if your friend responds negatively to the confrontation? Well, honestly, that’s up to them, not you. If they offended you, you’re doing the right thing by coming directly to them. If you are kind, patient and God-honoring in how you discuss the issue, their response is still up to them. You cannot control how they react to your discussion of the hurt. All you can do is present the opportunity for repentance and reconciliation.
Be sure that you are honest with your own flaws in the relationship throughout this. If you had a part in the offense, be willing to own up to it and apologize. Either way, set an example of kindness in all your interactions. Pray before you discuss. And allow God to work in and through the relationship for His glory.