I’m sure I’m not the only one who goes through those weeks where your close friends rub you up the wrong way. They manage to hit on all your insecurities and make you feel really bad. So what do you do, talk to them? Ignore it? Remember we all make mistakes? Different people say different things, but actually, all of this can help.
I know I’m not the only one who has experienced all the stresses piling up at the same time to create a few weeks we would rather forget.
You know those times, when there are a thousand things to do at work and commitments at church and with friends need juggling. Then a delightful bill from the garage to fix your car arrives to go with the bill to fix a problem in your house.
Fun, fun, fun.
It seems to be during these times everything else seems a bit harder, and takes more time and effort. This is when you need a bit of support from your friends, but sadly, it doesn’t seem to happen.
2 Sides To Every Story
What I’m about to share isn’t from my ‘high horse’ or from a place where I think I’m perfect. I know I have let friends down and make mistakes. I also know there are two sides to every story, and you’re only hearing my side.
But I do want to share these stories. Not so I can rant, but to be real about the fact that we get hurt. Friends can say and do things that seem ‘little’ and not worth making a fuss about, but can actually cause a lot of hurt.
We need to be honest about it and think about how we can choose to respond.
‘Really? That’s Not Good’
This first occasion happened at church recently. There was a social action project happening which I couldn’t do because I injured my back, and because I spent hours in the kitchen washing up after the church’s community lunch, which took ages.
I went to church again later on for the evening, and the first thing someone said to me was ‘Did you help at the social action project?’ I said ‘No I wasn’t there’. Then they said ‘Really? That’s not good’ and walked off.
I was so annoyed
They were kind of half joking half not, and I was so annoyed. They didn’t say ‘Why couldn’t you make it?’, or ‘Are you OK?’. They simply judged and assumed I wasn’t there because I’m not a ‘good Christian’.
I was really hurt by it, and it played on my mind for a big part of the evening service.
Did You Hear This?
Later that week something else happened. Now, let me say that I’m all up for banter, and ‘taking the mickey’ with friends. We shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously and we all do silly things. But when our friends are essentially making fun of us, and then talk about us as if we aren’t there, that really hurts.
It always hurts more when close friends go a bit too far
This happened a few times with the same group of friends. You know the difference between someone including you in the joke, and someone making you the joke. When they’re saying to each other ‘Did you hear this?’, and are essentially pointing and laughing.
It always hurts more when close friends go a bit too far, and manage to intentionally or accidentally, make a joke about a big insecurity.
Sadly, we can probably all relate to (similar) incidents like these ones.
Sometimes you think it’s so minor, if you bring it up or make a big deal out of it it will make you look petty. But words can be really hurtful, and it can breed negative feelings in us.
So what can we do?
Firstly, I want to say you aren’t the only one. When these things happen and you feel like it’s a big deal even though it was just one word that was said, it matters, and it’s not OK.
This stuff matters, because these are the type of things that can cause us to withdraw. To think that we are alone. Or that our friend isn’t as good a friend as we thought. Here are some things we need to remember to make sure this stuff doesn’t weaken our relationships.
- A Bad Moment Doesn’t Define The Relationship
- Remember The Positives
- Sometimes An Awkward Talk Is Needed
A Bad Moment Doesn’t Define The Relationship
A bad moment or bad joke doesn’t define the relationship. This is hard when in the moment we feel angry, but we need to hold on to the fact that a moment doesn’t mean everything is tainted.
This is hard to do, but remembering why you’re friends in the first place, putting this incident into context and remembering they may be going through a bad time or may have a different sense of humour or way of communicating, is important.
Otherwise, the negative feelings may just keep growing.
Remember The Positives
Following on from this first point, something that has really helped me recently is remembering the positives about my friends when I’m annoyed by them. And not letting my mind just wonder to the negatives.
So I remember that although they have a cutting sense of humour, they are very generous. Or even though they say things in a bad way sometimes, they are always ready to meet up and listen when I have a problem.
Love is choice at the end of the day
Love is choice at the end of the day. We may feel bitter, but we can choose to remember they’re a good friend and no one is perfect. We can choose to rebuild the friendship and forgive. (Read The Four Words Spoken By Jesus You Need To Hear)
Sometimes An Awkward Talk Is Needed
However, sometimes, we do need to talk about it. Especially if it really hurt us, or it’s a pattern and something that keeps happening.
Awkward chats aren’t fun. But sometimes a friendship needs a frank conversation. Otherwise, things will keep weakening the relationship. We can’t just say it’s not a big deal when it is. (Read How Successful Relationship Avoid Letting Anger Win)
I used a mixture of these responses with my friends and in my recent situations. I know I’ve made mistakes and had to apologise to friends for things I have said and done, and will no doubt need to do it many more times. But when it happens to me, I can choose how I respond.
Imagine if we remember one bad choice can’t define everything, that people are a mix of good and bad and we can choose to focus on the positive, and sometimes we need to have awkward conversations. (Read How To Tell If Our Relationships Are Thriving)
What else can you do to respond positively? Comments welcomed below.
Originally posted 28/5/2018