A friend’s a friend forever…until they aren’t. The pain endured from a broken friendship is one of the most difficult to bear, isn’t it? (Psalm 55:12-14) Not only have I experienced significant rejection as an adult from those once incredibly close to me, but I’ve also witnessed others endure unexpected friend breakups. In the process, I’ve learned a thing or two. If you are navigating the aftermath of a broken friendship, I hope this post will be especially comforting and helpful. If you are years out from the rejection but it feels like it just happened yesterday, I pray you too will find a measure of balm for your aching soul.
First, how do these situations even happen? Though there are various reasons, the one I am familiar with and have seen others experience involves the faithful wounds of a friend. (Proverbs 27:6). Confronting sin can lead to the obliteration of the friendship when the other party would rather you affirm and support them no matter what they choose to do.
I spent five years after my first deep rejection trying to understand it. Trying to understand why. Perhaps the hardest reality to accept in these type of situations is the total lack of logic to them. Despite the circumstances defying reason, we incessantly struggle to understand. The truth is sometimes people simply love themselves more than their friends. When we interfere with their self-worship, they sacrifice us no matter the previous depth of our relationship. Think of David and Uriah. (II Samuel 11) Saul and David. (I Samuel 18)
So, what do we do once rejected? We cry. We weep. We destroy a punching bag if we’re blessed with such an amazing possession. We journal. We stop analyzing our own actions thinking if only we had done things differently we wouldn’t be in this painful situation. We stop striving to understand what God is doing. We choose to trust God. We choose again to trust God. And once again, we purposely trust God.
Another helpful thing for me personally is to purge items received from the person. This might not be helpful to everyone, but I know it has helped more than just me. The objects that once were a treasured symbol of the friendship are now a painful reminder of the gaping hole in my heart. It’s ok to remove those objects from our constant path. Some items I’ve donated. Some items I’ve put away in the hopes of reconciliation. Some items I’ve kept in their usual place and when I notice them I pray for the person that gave them to me.
One of the hardest things to discern is how much to pursue the friend as the breakup starts occurring and even months or years later. Should I try calling again? Should I reach out on her birthday? What about sending a Christmas card? Our hearts are tied to someone even when we are rejected. We long to reach out. We long to make it right. And yet at some point we may start wanting to self protect. To reach out further may lead to further painful rejection. Yet, perhaps we should reach out again even if it hurts us. On the other hand, we actually may need to completely let go. I recommend running your struggles by someone close to you who can give wise objective insight and help you discern what course of action to take.
Most importantly, we must rise up. Press on. We must never quit. We accept we have been rejected. We trust that God is at work. We remember that Jesus knows the most searing form of rejection from a friend. The Perfect Friend was rejected by Judas. (Matthew 26:49-50) That rejection cost Jesus His very life. But that same rejection brought our salvation. Perhaps one day we will learn what God is accomplishing through our own personal rejection. Till then, let us patiently endure the suffering God has sovereignly written into our life story. (I Peter 2:20)