Have you ever had a friend that acted one way when they were with you but when they were with a different group of friends it was like someone flipped a switch and they were a different person? Or maybe you had a friend who one day, out of nowhere, just started treating you differently. You hadn't done anything to hurt them or even had a disagreement with them but suddenly you were not as important to them. Or maybe someone just got angry at you with no explanation. They just dropped off your radar and you don't talk anymore.
If you've ever has one of these scenarios take place you know how painful relationships can be. When we have friends, we tend to trust them to remain our friends regardless of what might happen. That trust makes it difficult to see what might be happening under the surface. We might ignore warning signs or hints that would prepare us for a change in our friend. What is a Godly response to what feels like the betrayal of a friend?
We make three critical mistakes in relationships that prevent us from dealing with these issues appropriately:
1. We assume - "Everything will continue as it has" or "this will blow over". Or we assume it's no big deal and it will sort itself out.
2. We have flawed expectations - we don't feel that we would ever treat a friend the way we are being treated so we expect the person to come to us and sort things out. It's what we would do right? We can rarely expect someone to confront us if there is an issue to resolve. We are often expecting too much.
3. We fail to communicate - We pretend everything is okay and never actually talk about how our friend is acting. We take a "head in the sand" approach.
So what should our response be to a friend who isn't acting like a friend?
1. Assume - Assume that there is something going on in the life of your friend that they need help with. If they are acting out of character it is time for compassion, not judgment. So assume that they need you more than ever. This means PRAYING for your friend.
2. Reach out - Rather than expecting the friend to come to us and spell everything out we need to go to them and let them know how we're feeling or what we've observed. "Friend, it seems like you've been distant lately. Is everything okay?" Or "We haven't talked much lately. Can you help me understand what's going on?"
3. Confront and communicate - If your friend will not admit to an issue in their life causing their behavior then the only appropriate response is to let them know how their actions are making you feel. Communicate with them rather than attack them. The goal is healing and reconciliation for the friendship, not a lecture.
4. Carry on - If after REPEATED attempts to confront and communicate about the issue fail, we must be ready to carry on without that person beside us as a friend. It doesn't have to be a formal break. We just continue to pray for them and let them go.
I hope no one reading this has had a friend change or betray them. It is a painful circumstance but even Jesus was betrayed by someone close to him. So take your pain to him. He understands.