Life Relationships

Is it time to break up with a friend?

Sometimes I wish BuzzFeed quizzes told me more than what font I am (Futura) or how many Justin Biebers I could take in a fight (14).

While taking on 14 teen pop sensations in skinny jeans during a fight seems overly ambitious (I would probably be more comfortable with 12), sometimes I wish making relevant-to-life decisions was as simple as answering a few questions online in a few clicks. Especially when it comes to ending relationships.

And I’m not just talking about roses are red, violets are blue kind of relationships. I’m talking about the platonic kind: friendships.

Before you do another Facebook purge or delete another contact in your smart phone, take this quiz:

When is it time to break up with a friend?

1. If you were to describe the perfect friend, who would it be?

A. Barney Stinson — our friendship is legen — wait for it — (enough said).

B. Childhood bestie — OMG, BFF, LOL, XOXO, ABCDEFG, !!! (enough said).

C. Jesus Christ — perfect (enough said).

2. When it comes to making big decisions you:

A. Procrastinate and take advantage of your $7.99/month Netflix subscription instead.

B. Worry and eat a lot of chocolate.

C. Pray for guidance.

3. If your current friendship could be summed up as a line graph it would be:

A. Going down, baby, down — if your friend told you to jump off a bridge, you would!

B. Code blue — (silence).

C. Up and to the right — you’d think we’d both be working at a metal factory the way iron is sharpening iron over here!

4. If you realize your friendship has gone below the X-axis you:

A. Say you’re moving across the country and will no longer have Internet or phone connection and have lost all penmanship skills (thank you, technology) necessary to communicate via written snail mail.

B. Worry and eat a lot of chocolate.

C. Confront your friend one-on-one, and discuss your concerns in truth and love.

If you answered ‘A’ or ‘B’ to any of the above, maybe it’s time to reconsider what the friendship actually means.

While the Bible doesn’t come with a cheesy “when to break up with a friend” quiz section next to the concordance, its wisdom-filled pages give us a friendship evaluation process to follow:

1. Examine the “Perfect Friend Model”

Before we think about the process of ending a friendship, we have to first think about what a true friend looks like: Jesus Christ. A humble servant who washed the feet of his disciples and loved so unconditionally that He gave his life for all who might believe in Him. Surely, “greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).

2. Pray

God doesn’t call us to worry, especially when it comes to making important relational decisions. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

3. Determine the direction of your friendship

What happens when our friendship line graphs are going down, baby, down? What happens when our friendships don’t seem to be reflecting what Jesus would do? What if iron isn’t sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17)? What if we aren’t spurring one another towards love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24)?

The Proverbs warn us that gossip, anger, and repeated offences separate friends. Or even worse, corrupt our own behaviour (Proverbs 22: 24-25). As Paul warns in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’”

4. Speak the truth in love

Now it’s confrontation time [cue dramatic music]. Following the process in Matthew 18:15-17, we need to voice our concerns to our friend in person (if possible). If it is well received, friendship salvaged. If our friend graph continues to go down, especially if it’s down the axis of unrepentant sin, the friendship might need to end.

As we attempt to navigate relationships biblically, let us always remember that we all fall short of the glory of God. No friend is perfect. Especially not you. And especially not me.

We just need someone who’s willing to come alongside for the bumpy ride that leads up and to the right.

Flickr photo (cc) by Spry