Do you ever wonder if a friendship is even worth it anymore? You have one that requires a lot of work and you’re constantly feeling hurt from it. You have no clue if you should hang on and wait it out or if you should close the door and walk away.
I’ve shared with you before how good people can be difficult and how to handle those relationships. So, while there’s a time to hang on and extend grace, there’s also a time to walk away.
While I don’t think walking away from a friendship is unchristlike, I do think the way you go about it and the reasoning behind it can be.
When you’re a loyal friend who values the relationships you have with people, especially if the relationship has been around for many years, you may find yourself in this position a lot. You’re not sure when enough is enough. You’re wondering at what point you need to put up new boundaries and what those boundaries look like. You’re confused trying to figure out how a once healthy relationship is now hurting you all the time.
I understand it’s hard to know when to hold on and when to let go. It’s a tough battle that requires a lot of prayer and guidance, but can I encourage you on something? Sometimes you do need to let go. It doesn’t make you a bad person who lacks grace and it doesn’t make you unchristlike.
When To Know It’s Time To Say Goodbye To A Friendship
Keep in mind a friendship you may be struggling with currently while you read the following list:
PURPOSE: What is the purpose of the friendship? Is it a mutual connection where both parties are equally invested in each other? Or, do you notice they only come around when they want something from you?
In college, I experience a friendship where the only time this person wanted to chat with me was when they needed a ride somewhere or if they needed a place to do their laundry. Any other time they weren’t invested. This type of friendships can cause you to be in a position where you are the only one giving and that will drain anyone.
While not all friendships start out this way, something can change in a person’s life that causes them to become needier. At times it can be a phase your friend is going through while they deal with life difficulties. However, some people only cultivate friendships based on need and when their needs change- their friendships change.
If your friend has shifted to only reaching out when they’re in need and this is unlike them, I encourage you to give them that time and prayerfully seek God for wisdom on when to talk about it with your friend if you feel a conversation is needed.
If your friend quickly showed this character trait in the friendship, pay attention to their other friendships. Do you see their relationships changing often? If you’re noticing them treat their other friendships in the same manner then you can have confidence in knowing this is the purpose behind their friendships and not genuine community.
When facing this type of friendship, changing your expectations will greatly help the constant feeling of disappointment. Shifting your side of the friendship will create new boundaries that protect yourself. This, more than likely, will cause a natural drift in the relationship because once your friend isn’t getting what they want, they will quickly move on to the next friend. They may not even realize the new boundaries and totally miss the natural separation because their so focused inward.
SINFUL TRENDS: Is there a common trend that occurs throughout your friendship that is sinful? Are you noticing your conversations shift to talking about others and often hear yourself or the other person say, “I’m only sharing this with you because it’s you, but don’t tell anyone else.”
There are friendships you have a closer relationship with where you don’t have to worry about having a strong filter or you know you can share more freely from your heart. But that is never an excuse for gossiping and sharing someone else’s private information.
Maybe you’re noticing a trend of jealousy from your friend. I’ve experienced friendships where comments were said to me from a heart of jealousy and hurt. It’s confusing at first and many don’t ever want to be the one to say that someone is jealous of them out of fear of sounding conceited. But can I remind you that jealousy and comparison is a tool the devil uses often? So if someone is making comments about your “perfect life” and using it against you, know that’s coming from a place of jealousy.
No matter what the sin is, if it has been frequent, and affecting your decisions and actions, boundaries and separation are needed. You need to protect yourself and guard your heart above everything. No matter how long you’ve been serving the Lord or how mature you are, everyone can easily fall into sin without boundaries.
Sometimes these friendships can stay intact if there’s a shift. Hanging out with this person with others around may protect gossip or other sins to occur since there are more witnesses. But, sometimes a clean break is needed. Scripture tells us to flee from all temptation (2 Timothy 2:22) so if someone or something tempts you to sin, run away. When a friendship has caused you to consistently sin, walking away from it will protect you and that person.
In this situation, a conversation should take place. Explaining you don’t want to talk bad about people or whatever the sin is, will help that person know the new boundary and gives them a chance to respect it. If they’re not respecting it or trying to push it from time to time, protect yourself and walk away peacefully and with love. Explaining your need to protect yourself will help the other friend have peace knowing why you’ve distanced yourself whether they like it or not.
REPETITION: Proverbs 27:17 explains friendship as iron sharpening iron. Meaning, it’s two people in a mutual friendship that is encouraging, respectful and cultivating one another to be better people.
When a friendship is centered around one person, isn’t encouraging or respectful, or encounters a lot of hurtful actions, it’s not possible to sharpen one another. When you’re constantly feeling the need to defend or explain yourself, or walk away from your time with them hurt by their words- the friendship is no longer producing fruit.
Whatever the repetitive behavior is, if it’s not cultivating an “iron sharpens iron” friendship, it’s best to peacefully distance yourself.
Friend, please hear my heart. I’m not saying to give up and walk away the second anything from the above list appears. People are all growing, learning, and maturing- no matter their age or place in life. People make mistakes and go through difficult times.
What I am saying is, you can’t be friends with everyone, so, choose your close friends wisely. Spend time with people who love you, encourage you, sharpen you, and where you walk away wanting to be more like Christ.
Some people are just not able to cultivate those types of friendships at the moment and they’re best to be loved from a distance and with boundaries.
Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”