Everyone needs a little grace. But how much is too much?
As someone who has had a share of bad friends in life and has also been a bad friend a few times, I like to think it’s only right to give people chances. Matthew 18:21-22 seems to support this notion:
21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
The beautiful thing about these verses is that they show that in spite of our flaws, we can still readily receive the gift of forgiveness and enjoy meaningful friendships with each other.
In the end, we’re all just imperfect people trying to love other imperfect people, and what better way to learn than from the source of love Himself?
Learning how to forgive is not only beneficial to our offenders but also healing to ourselves. Does this mean that we should keep holding onto relationships regardless of how many times we are hurt?
Well, not necessarily.
After some personal reflection and research, I’ve come to find that there may be times when it may be best to walk away from a friend.
Here are three of those instances.
When You Can’t Cooperate
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. – 1 Peter 3:8
Just recently, I ended a friendship that was very dear to me. After several attempts at making things work, I’d come to realize that our friendship suffered from one grave flaw: poor cooperation.
My constant misinterpretation of my friend’s bluntness and abruptness for a lack of care combined to his impatient and callous attitude towards my concerns made for a disastrous pairing.
The final straw for me, however, was realizing that I was never going to feel appreciated in this friendship; instead, I’d be housing a thousand ignorant offences in my heart for the fear that they would either go unheard or be ignored.
At first, I had questioned my decision to call it quits, but after a bit of reflection, I came to find that we just weren’t compatible. In other words, we both lacked the “like-mindedness” we were called to have in Christ and failed to treat each other with the kindness and compassion we ought to have.
When You Aren’t Improving
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. – Proverbs 27:17 NIV
I’ll admit. As an emotional person, I don’t usually take too kindly to criticism, but even I can see that just a little of the right kind can help one grow exponentially.
A perfect vehicle for this kind of growth is friendship. While all friendships require some level of gentleness and understanding, there comes a time when some harsh truths must be told, and who better to tell them than a friend?
Whether we like to admit or not, we all have a few things about ourselves that could be changed or improved. But without another pair of eyes, we may be tempted to trust our own sometimes skewed perceptions of ourselves and miss the opportunity to become better people.
A good friend will want to see you grow and won’t shy away from telling you the truth. He will also consider the way he goes about doing so.
When You Are Changing
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” – 1 Corinthians 15:33
Friends can make you change for the better. They can also make you change for the worse. I, for one, can attest to this.
Only two years ago, I found myself in a friendship where other people’s flaws were constantly at the forefront of conversation. Over time, I become increasingly paranoid and distrustful, and consequently, a few of my most meaningful bonds were fractured.
The change had been so subtle that I could hardly tell where it originated from, but it was only a matter of time before the full truth would come out, that the friend that had instilled so much fear and doubt in me, in fact, was the one I needed to avoid the most.
This is, perhaps, a perfect example of how “bad company corrupts,” as the above verse sternly warns. This is why we should always be mindful of the friendships we choose to entertain.
Are you considering letting a friend go? Then ask yourself these three questions:
Do you feel your collaborative efforts are wasted?
Are you becoming a better person?
Are you changing in a way you don’t like?
Then it may be time to part ways. But fear not! As sad of an occasion this may be, there are plenty of people out there waiting to welcome you into their worlds, and in heaven, a faithful Friend waits for you.