There's something about the photograph below that immediately makes me smile. Let's call him Andrew. Maybe his favorite sports team won the championship. Maybe his girlfriend said yes to his marriage proposal. For the purpose of today's blog post, I am going to say Andrew is exhilarated about one crucial thing. He was forgiven by his friend. We are all familiar with that experience. Our faults and mistakes are not held against us. We are given a second chance (or third). If we desire this treatment from our friends, let us give it too. When we search for a friend with no faults, one day, we will remain with no friends at all (African proverb).
We know how it can be. Relationships are complex. One moment, we are laughing together over snacks and juice and the next, someone is offended because a joke went too far. Sometimes, we can be enjoying a blossoming friendship, but when the next person's faults begin to emerge, we run. This running can come in the form of withdrawing, prolonged silence or the easy decision to keep conversations at the surface level. If our go-to mechanism is to hide or build a wall at the first sign of offense or misunderstanding, our friendships will turn into the projects that we start but never finish.
So the next time we reach a difficult spot in our friendships, here are three things we can do:
Ask ourselves this important question: "how would I want to be treated if I was the one who did wrong?" This is the heart of the golden rule in Matthew 7:12.
Keep talking and interacting, even when it feels awkward. This lessens the silence that can quickly develop. In the silence, negative thoughts can emerge and run unchecked.
Remind ourselves of the "why" of the friendship. If this is a healthy relationship (where there is mutual give and take), this is the time to fight for our why. Think about the look of victory on Andrew's face and remember that when our friendships make it through difficult periods, we have a stronger and deeper bond.
As we reflect on this year and get ready for a new year, let us choose to extend grace, forgive and build our friendships.
Am I someone who is quick to apologise?
Am I someone who is quick to forgive?
How willing am I to fight for my relationships when we encounter problems?
Project Manager & Contributor