I’ll admit it — I’m on the outs with a friend. We had a disagreement — a big one. She said some things that hurt me. I said some things that hurt her. Now we’re not talking. Part of me wants to make up, another part wants to write her off and get on with my life.

I know what the Bible says: I should live in peace with people as far as I have the power to do so (Romans 12:18). But I’m having a hard time bringing myself to work on this one. The issues are big and the hurt is deep. Still, I know that God wants me to repair this relationship, so how do I go about it?

[1] Confess to God – First I need to come clean before God. I sinned against Him when I allowed myself to treat one of His children poorly. I need to ask Him to show me where I went wrong, what attitudes need to be changed and to keep me humble when I do talk to her.

[2] Forgive – Before I talk to her, I need to forgive her. Forgiveness doesn’t mean I think she was right, or that it doesn’t matter that she hurt me. In fact, forgiveness acknowledges that what she did was wrong but allows me to say that I won’t let her words and actions define either of us (victim, perpetrator), or our relationship.

[3] Apologize – I mean really apologize, not “I’m sorry but…” which puts the blame back on the person to whom you’re apologizing. Also, no tricky wording like “I’m sorry what I said upset you.” This isn’t a real apology either, because you don’t acknowledge that you were wrong. And the most important part of apologizing is admitting you were wrong.

[4] Ask forgiveness – I need to give her a chance to forgive me. She may have already decided to do so and will express it, she may need time to think about it or she may never decide to forgive me. Asking her forgiveness is giving her that choice, that control. It’s humbling for me; it’s healing for her.

[5] Pray for relationship – Regardless of how she chooses to respond to me, I need to pray for the relationship. I need to ask God to repair it and restore it, to make it be what He wants it to be. I need to pray for my friend, and I need to pray that I will be open to what God can teach me through this.

[6] Evaluate the friendship – Deep hurts change a friendship. Some won’t survive, others will continue on a more shallow level, still others will grow deeper. I need to look at our relationship, then and now. Did the hurt come because one (or both) of us assumed an intimacy that wasn’t there and we weren’t ready for? Do we need to take the relationship back a level? Or can we use this to become even closer? Do I still think I can trust her? Can she trust me? Sometimes a disagreement will reveal things that, for our own protection, make ending or severely limiting the friendship advisable. Verbal abuse would be one reason, as would betraying extremely private information or spreading false rumors.

I know what I need to do. Now I need to do it. So what’s holding me back? Pride, mostly. I don’t like admitting I was wrong. I don’t like facing the fact that I can and do hurt people I care about. I don’t like humbling myself. I don’t like putting myself in situations where I could be rejected.

There’s also the fear of the unknown. How will the relationship have changed? What if she doesn’t forgive me? One thing is certain — the longer I wait, the harder it will be. So if you’ll excuse me, I have a phone call to make.

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