Friendship is life-giving! Good friends offer joy, laughter, support, and growth.
When we are in healthy relationships, we enjoy intertwined lives and are stronger together. But even strong relationships can hit a rough patch and begin to fray.
If stirrings of discontent and detachment start to sprout up in a friendship, we usually feel dread and fear. We hope our feelings go away and everything goes back to normal. But if our feelings grow and distance is detected, learning how to fix a friendship can become our mission.
Restoring relationships is an important practice that is often abandoned. When we work on mending our relationships, we enjoy longer more fulfilling connections.
Friendship is one of the precious gifts in life and when we feel we are losing a friend, it is worth the effort to discover tools on how to fix a friendship.
Is salvaging a friendship that easy? Can we learn how to fix a friendship like we learn how to fix a flat tire, a cake, or a puzzle?
Well, people are not things so it is definitely more difficult to fix a friendship, but if everyone involved in a troubled friendship seeks restoration it can be done.
Learning and accepting how to fix a friendship is possible when God is at the center of our lives, we value the friends we spend time with and there is a mutual decision to keep the friendship alive.
“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 NLT
Restoring relationships is not always possible but learning tools on how to fix a friendship helps us identify breakdowns and keep our connections intact.
Broken Friendship Meaning
When something is broken it is not functioning at its highest potential. It is limping along and can eventually shut down completely.
Broken friendships are not functioning at their full potential, are painful and can cause disruption in your life for a long time.
The meaning of a broken friendship is a friendship that has grown distant, lost its joy, is no longer mutually beneficial and has brought pain.
What causes a broken friendship?
There are many causes that lead to a broken friendship. Here are 5 causes that seem to rear their ugly head often. Acknowledging that a friendship is weak is a starting point on uncovering how to fix a friendship.
- Unforgiveness– an unwillingness to get over or release an offense or betrayal
- Jealousy-a feeling of insecurity caused by comparison or disappointment
- Unresolved Hurt-a pain so grievous it is hard to stop thinking about and clouds your view of someone
- Seasons of Life -when a season is over and we lose connection with someone
- Change in Focus or Interests-when we change and grow differently than someone either spiritually, emotionally, or geographically.
“Forgiveness and the restoration of a relationship are two different things. Forgiveness is only your part. It doesn’t depend on whether the other person asks for your forgiveness, responds to your forgiveness, or recognizes they need your forgiveness. You forgive for your sake. Restoration of a relationship takes far more than forgiveness. It takes repentance. It takes restitution and a rebuilding of trust. And it often takes time.”
“Look after each other so that not one of you will fail to find God’s best blessings. Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives.”
Hebrews 12:15 TLB
Restoring Relationship with God
At times a broken friendship is connected to a fractured or fatigued faith. The friendship is suffering because someone is spiritually drained and may have lost their way.
When our identity is securely rooted in how God sees us, we grow in all areas of our life including relationships.
When we are in a good place with God we are available to build positive relationships with others. We can’t control how others change or the temperature of their faith, but we can work on our own spirit by increasing or restoring our relationship with God.
When we are growing spiritually and are deeply connected to God’s voice through the Bible, prayer, and wise friends, we are spiritually healthy and can more easily restore broken friendships.
If you are feeling spiritually drained, it may be the first place to take a closer look. Then be purposeful to reconnect with God so that you are strong enough to mend friendships.
Strong faith has been the most important ingredient in my journey of learning how to fix a broken friendship. Knowing how much Jesus loves and cares for me helps me love and care for others.
“Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.” Colossians 3:10 NLT
Can a Broken Friendship be Restored?
Can a broken friendship be restored? Is there a way to understand how to fix a friendship?
When imperfect people, discovering themselves and God, come together and form a strong bond, it is a miracle. But our authentic selves and shared stories are the basis of all good relationships.
But because of our imperfections, we can be difficult, hurt each other and cause cracks in our relationship.
There are things we can do to rekindle and repair relationships, but we have to be intentional in learning how to fix a friendship.
When we are confident in our relationship with Christ and are being transformed in His image, we are able to push selfish ambitions, self-righteousness, and self-protection out of the way. We are content with ourselves and can be more content and gracious with others.
As the big day approached, I sensed my friend was struggling with the change. We had been friends for years and were stepping out on different paths.
She began to bottle up her emotions including joy, frustration, and fear of what the future held for each of us. I didn’t know what was wrong and she refused to share her thoughts with me, so we grieved in private and our friendship suffered.
One day we both realized our friendship was not as strong and needed help or it would surely die. Our connection was broken and in need of repair, but we didn’t know if we were both willing to invest and explore how to fix a broken friendship.
When she called and asked me to meet, she took the brave step to expose her feelings for the sake of restoring a relationship with an important, good friend.
Many times we are afraid or unwilling to take the step toward restoring relationships so a friendship slowly drifts and eventually falls apart.
When friendships suffer, we tend to fill the gap with other people, interests, and distractions until the pain dissolves and we move on.
But not this time. We were both committed to uncovering the root of the problem and restoring our broken friendship.
We talked, cried, and discussed our feelings of rejection and loss. Through our transparent conversation, we began to discover new ways to connect and walk through the changes. We both asked for forgiveness for our part in the brokenness.
After this pivotal meeting, we had to walk through an awkward season as we began to rebuild a relationship that was extremely valuable to both of us.
To this day we are still friends and actually developed a deeper connection learning how to fix a broken friendship and restore our love and respect for each other.
Does fixing a broken friendship always work out this way? Unfortunately, there is no exact formula, and restoring relationships is never guaranteed.
But God weaves His love around us as we navigate a broken friendship regardless of our ability to restore it or walk away and accept that it is over.
“Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Try always to be led along together by the Holy Spirit and so be at peace with one another.” Ephesians 4:2-3 TLB
How to Heal a Broken Friendship
The first step to learning how to heal a broken friendship is to realize it is not functioning at a healthy level and needs attention.
When someone is going through a rough patch in their faith or struggling in life, a friendship can feel strained. But often a strained or broken friendship springs back to life on its own.
Other times uncovering methods on how to heal a broken friendship are needed. Being aware of strain or dysfunction in a friendship seems like an easy step but it often causes stress and fear. However, if we stay in denial, that there are problems, restoring relationships is not possible.
Sometimes it is too frightening to address a problem until it explodes, causes severe damage, and it is too late. But when we value someone we can trust God to guide us and lead us toward mending the friendship.
5 Tips on How to Fix a Friendship
Here are 5 tips on how to heal a friendship so we can hold onto those friends that are precious to us. God is faithful and will show us how to love and embrace a friend in order to restore the relationship.
Both people in a friendship have to feel free to discuss issues. Not every issue has to be discussed, but when it is time to open up, there should be a free pass to do so. Listening to each other and respecting boundaries is an important part of open communication.
Acknowledge the Problem
Hiding a problem that is causing pain or separation, is bound to increase the tension and get in the way of restoring relationships. If you can’t quite figure out the problem ask God and even the friend involved for clarity. Be respectful and show humility when discussing the problem. This step is not meant to discourage but to provide a safe place of discovery.
Forgive and Ask for Forgiveness
Unforgiveness is the thief of many good friendships. It presents itself as our right and slowly eats away at the love and grace that make relationships thrive. Forgiveness is the magic word that will show you how to fix a friendship and leads to the most restoration. In order to maintain lifelong relationships, be ready to ask for and extend forgiveness, often.
Develop a Plan
Where do we go from here? How will the restored relationship function? We can’t erase hurt but we can walk through it with a new determination to make a friendship stronger. This plan can be between you and God or involve both people. The point is to be intentional about moving forward or the relationship could still fade.
Accept the New Relationship
Acceptance is a big step because most restored relationships will look differently after reconciliation. The bigger the offense the more awkward the transition. Be encouraged and don’t give up on this step. If you have made it this far and value the person, how to fix a friendship gets easier on the other side of acknowledgment and forgiveness.
These suggestions on how to fix a friendship won’t always have the same result as instructions for fixing a pot roast. Human relationships are not an exact science. But if restoring relationships is your goal, these ideas are a good place to start.
Relationships are as fragile, dynamic, and evolving as the people that they represent, but they are worth all of the efforts you put in to stay connected.
Stories of God Restoring Relationships
There are many stories of God restoring relationships in the Bible. The story of Moses offers great insight on learning how to fix a friendship.
Moses was a mighty prophet and humble servant of God who was intentional in his human relationships.
Although Moses is one of the most important characters in the Bible and had a strong relationship with God, he was also a flawed human being, like we are. He made many mistakes but repented of his errors and grew closer to God, His followers, and close friends.
Moses also had his share of relationship ups and downs weaved throughout his story. He sets an example of the importance and possibility of restoring relationships.
Moses and Miriam
Moses and Miriam were siblings who served important roles in fulfilling God’s rescue of the Israelites from slavery. Miriam loved Moses; she nurtured him when he was adopted by the Pharoah’s daughter and stood by his side for years.
But at some point, she became jealous of Moses and began to gossip and turn bitter towards him.
“Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the Lord heard this.” Numbers 12:1-2 NIV
Miriam was punished for her disloyal behavior, but Moses quickly forgave her and his brother Aaron for their betrayal.
“So, Moses cried out to the Lord, “Please, God, heal her!” Numbers 12:13
Moses and Miriam continued to serve side by side for many years after this event. God was able to help Moses forgive Miriam and restore their relationship.
Moses and Aaron
Aaron and Moses were brothers but also friends who served together and accomplished great feats for God. Aaron spoke on behalf of Moses and helped him overcome his insecurity and fear. Aaron also helped Moses become a powerful leader for the Jewish people.
But besides the betrayal, Aaron committed with Miriam he also disappointed Moses. When Moses went to Mount Sinai to meet with God and obtain the 10 commandments, Aaron was left in charge of the Israelites.
During Moses’ absence, Aaron turned away from God and created an idol; the story of the golden calf and Moses’ anger are well known.
“When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us.” Exodus 32:1 NIV
“Moses said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?” Exodus 32:13 NIV
This is another beautiful story of God restoring relationships. Moses had every right to give up on Aaron, but he believed in him and in their friendship.
Despite Aaron’s weaknesses and the possibility of broken friendship with Moses, their relationship was restored and they continued their story together to impact the people they were called to lead.
Moses and Joshua
Joshua was an assistant to Moses who accompanied him during the Israelites’ years of wandering in the desert.
Joshua was also one of the twelve spies selected by Moses to investigate the promised land of Canaan. Joshua and Caleb were the only two spies who came back with an encouraging report and were allowed to enter Canaan.
The story of the 12 spies demonstrates Joshua’s courage and faithfulness to God and Moses. Joshua was a warrior who succeeded Moses and went on to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land.
“And the Lord was even angry with me because of them and said to me, ‘You shall not enter the Promised Land! Instead, your assistant, Joshua (the son of Nun), shall lead the people. Encourage him as he prepares to take over the leadership.” Deuteronomy 1:37-38 TLB
I include this story in restoring relationships because it shows how gracious and forgiving Moses was. Since Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land, he could have shown bitterness and jealousy toward Joshua. Instead, Moses showed love and grace and gave a blessing to Joshua.
“Then Moses called for Joshua, and as all Israel watched, he said to him, “Be strong and courageous! For you will lead these people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors he would give them. You are the one who will divide it among them as their grants of land.” Deuteronomy 31:7 NLT
There are many other great stories of God restoring relationships in the bible. Look for them to experience the joy and freedom found when we learn how to fix a friendship.
Relationships are one of the most important parts of our life. And although restoring relationships takes work and intentionality, it is usually worth the effort.
How do you know if restoring a relationship is worth it? If a friend adds and multiplies to your life, the relationship is healthy and mutually valued then the answer is probably yes.
Do you have a friendship that is struggling? Like any living, breathing thing, relationships need attention in order to survive. Pray specifically for your friend and for God to reveal if the friendship needs resuscitation and restoration or it is time to let it go.
When we are faithful to God and embrace His promises for us, we are able to learn how to fix friendships, hang in there with a valued friend and even help the friendship grow stronger.
Before you go…have you learned a secret on how to fix a friendship? Is restoring relationships important to you? Would love to hear your story in the comments!
This post was originally published on ButterflyLiving.org.