I didn’t see it coming. We were at a fancy brunch, sipping coffee and having a good time, when out of the blue a friend threw a sucker punch that knocked me upside the head and then sliced deep into my heart.
I stood there, inwardly wounded and bleeding, understanding firsthand why a wound from a friend hurts more than a wound from an enemy (Ps. 55:12-14). That hurtful, stinging remark left me staggering for balance, wondering what prompted such a fierce blow. Did I misunderstand our friendship? Were we even friends at all?
What do you do when a friend hurts you?
With infinite wisdom, love and grace, Jesus has traveled this road long before us. His friend Peter denied knowing Him. Judas sold Him out for thirty pieces of silver. Thomas doubted Him. His brothers mocked Him. Even the people of Nazareth, Jesus’s hometown, tried to kill Him by throwing Him off a cliff.
Here is a picture I took looking off of Mt. Precipice, the place where they tried to kill Him.
When friends who are supposed to love us, hurt us, our pain runs deep. Heart damage is done. Trust is fractured. Jesus experienced this, too. And yet somehow, He continued to love. And here’s the good news: the Lord wants to help us heal from our hurt and continue to love, too:
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 34:18 NLT
It’s important to bring every wound we receive to the Lord for cleansing and healing. Neglected, buried wounds do not heal—they have the power to keep on hurting us, over and over. Mysteriously and beautifully, the Lord helps us overcome our wounds and learn to love past our hurt.
Seven things to do when a friend hurts you:
1. Be patient. Healing is a process. Some wounds take more time to heal than others, so be patient with your heart. Be patient in prayer. Be patient with your friend. Remember, friends are flawed human beings and so are we.
“Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.” Prov. 14:29
2. Pray about it. Wounds respond well to the medicine of prayer—apply prayer often. Pray for your friend. Pray for your attitude to be Christ-like. Pray for the restoration of your crushed spirit and for healing of the friendship.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Rom. 12:12
3. Forgive. Our minds like to organize people into good and bad categories, but resist doing this. We’ve all been a less-than-perfect friend at one time or another, so be willing to let it go. Sometimes, letting it go and moving on is a difficult choice, but it is a choice God will bless–every time.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another . . . Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Col. 3:13
4. Go and make it right. This requires a boatload of humility. Possibly, you could’ve wounded your friend beforehand, even if you didn’t realize it. Don’t rehash details of who said what. Don’t explain why you’re hurt. Go to your friend and simply say, “Lately, I’ve sensed that you are hurt with me, how can I make it right?” This opens the door for communication and healing.
“First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift [of worship].” Mt. 5:24
5. Choose counsel wisely. It’s so tempting to recruit others to gang up against a friend who has hurt you. Regrettably, I’ve done this and it does not help. Resist ganging up. The evil one desires to divide people and pit them against each other. Don’t let him break your friend group apart. It’s okay to talk with someone who models grace and fairness, but don’t team up against the one who hurt you.
“Listen to advice and accept correction. In the end you will be counted among the wise.” Prov. 19:20
6. Expect occasional friendly fire. The more we care for someone, the more power we give that person to hurt us. Even in the brightest friendships, there is always a little pain. Don’t let friendly fire shock you—it only makes it hurt worse. Resist the temptation to strike back or get even.
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Ex. 14:14
7. Extend grace instead of judgment. When I remember how many of my flaws God has to overlook just to stay in a relationship with me, it helps me overlook the flaws of others. Each offense gives us the opportunity to extend just a tiny bit of the grace we have received.
“Freely you have received; freely give.” Mt. 10:8
Maybe you have been hurt by a friend recently, too. A thoughtless remark was made. Someone was inconsiderate. Selfish. Unaware. Irritable. Downright mean. You can view it as something terrible that will always hurt you or as something that God can somehow use for good. I know how badly it hurts. Seek God’s face; spend time in His presence. Let Him heal you. Let Him create something beautiful within your soul when a friend hurts you.
Thankfully, God helps us in every relationship—He certainly has helped me. In my new book, Seeking a Familiar Face, I wrote an entire chapter on love and healing in relationships, explaining how God has healed me. Here’s what I’ve learned:
“God has restored relationships that I thought were ruined forever. These are the most beautiful relationships of all—even more beautiful than before they were broken.” May Patterson, Seeking a Familiar Face, pg. 129
Get your copy of Seeking a Familiar Face today by clicking here.