When my daughter came to me, all teared up and frustrated over a friendship issue, it took all my power to reign in my mama-bear instincts and just listen. At 11, on the brink of that roller-coaster of hormonal emotions, she needs stability and reason. She needs guidance and perspective. It occurred to me that with my 36 years of experience down the road of ruining and restoring relationships, I had a considerable amount of power in my hands. How easy it would be for me to sympathise and cluck about the unfairness of it all. The temptation to take her side, and cause hardened hearts and tattered friendships, is the easy road of gossip and pride. How much more purposeful it would be to walk the hard road alongside her. The road of self-reflection, forgiveness, and grace.
But, sometimes that hard road is difficult to see. It’s blurred in the mire of self-righteousness and hurt. Sometimes it takes an unexpected approach, a curve-ball that delivers some strong home truths, to wipe away the smudges and make the way clear. So, I began, “Sweetie, the rules are simple. Here are 4 ways to ruin a friendship …”
1. Make every conversation all about you OR never about you:
Friends are supposed to be supportive and excited for you, right? Well, make sure that your friend knows your every thought and whim. Tell her about every accomplishment, every frustration and every wish ad nauseam. When she introduces a new topic, don’t let it carry on too long before you hijack it with a, “That reminds me when *I* ….” Whatever you do, don’t let her get a word in edge-wise. Of course, if you’re not the chatty type, then make sure you never talk about yourself. Don’t share a single dream, thought, or accomplishment. If she finds out from someone else, shrug it off like it’s no big deal. Let her wonder if you even care. And don’t ask her about hers either. Let the conversations stay superficial and trite. Getting deep means getting messy, and you definitely don’t want that.
2. Always see things from your perspective:
So, she said that hurtful thing to you and now you’re mad? That’s okay. Be mad! Be angry! Shout and scream! Don’t stop for a minute to wonder why she said that. Never ever give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she was having a bad day. It doesn’t matter – she should never talk to you like that. Maybe your actions caused her to feel judged. No, no – don’t try stand in her shoes. Just keep looking inward. Keep examining your own hurt and replaying the dreadful scene in your head–over and over. Don’t ask yourself the tough questions. Don’t prayerfully consider what you did that was wrong. It’s so much easier to pick up on her wrong-doing. Don’t take responsibility for your own faults. That’s right, nurse those hurts and hold them tightly.
3. Make the issue bigger than the friendship:
So you disagree about a movie, a definition of modesty, or a theological interpretation? Well, don’t you stand down! If you know you’re right, you must stand up for what you believe. It doesn’t matter if it’s not really a world-ending kind of viewpoint. So, it’s probably not a matter of life and death, but that isn’t the point, is it? It’s about principles! It’s about pride! It’s about making sure you’re always right! Remember, standing in her shoes won’t help you to remain strong, so don’t ever show grace. Fight your ground!
4. Never say you’re sorry:
The fight is over. You’re both simmering. You know you’ve made her mad, but she made you angry too! It’s okay. It happens sometimes. It’ll pass and soon enough you’ll pick up where you left off. Just make sure that you never ever say sorry. And, if you do find yourself saying sorry, remember to mumble just the one word, begrudgingly. Sorry. Whatever you do, never ever explain what you’re sorry for. Oh, and never ask for forgiveness. Never show heartfelt remorse. Never give her even a shred of emotion that will give her a chance to release healing forgiveness over you. Remember, it’s your pride you’re protecting. Oh, and if she says sorry, act as if you don’t quite believe it. Or brush it under the carpet and pretend it doesn’t matter. Never ever say, ‘I forgive you.’ Let her always feel that you hold the door to forgiveness tightly shut. After all, she needs to remember that you are always right. You need to protect those principles of yours!
It doesn’t take too long, my girl, but if you follow these rules, you’ll find that you can successfully leave your friendships in tatters. It’s okay, though, because you’ll always believe you’re right. You’ll always stick to your guns. You’ll never compromise, never show grace, never allow yourself to be moulded and shaped. You’ll never change.
And isn’t that just exactly what you want?