Walking the Trenches Together: On Peace and Patience in Friendship

We’ve all been there. That time when we are a grade-A mess, where emotions take over and we end up saying or doing hurtful things.

Maybe you’re thinking about a time when you were like this. Or maybe, as it is often easier, you’re thinking about a time when a friend treated you like this.

I can think of both.

I’ve had friends say hurtful things, ignore phone calls and treat me like dirt.

But to be honest, I’ve done the same.

Why is it that we tend to push away the ones we love in our times of need?

Peace and Patience in Friendship

God created us for fellowship - to walk alongside each other, to encourage each other and to love each other.

But when hard times come, many of us close up and retreat. Often, when we struggle most, it becomes hard to accept the love and support of a friend.

How can we cultivate peace and patience in our friendships even when things get tough?

How can we be God’s love to our friends when we are weary of the conflict?

Choosing Peace as Your Guide

“So this is it? After more than 10 years, we just stop talking?”

“I guess so.”

These final words of a long-time sisterhood were a devastating end to a special friendship. This friendship had seen us through so many ups and downs. We’d gone through heartbreak and joy together, laughing and crying with each other through every season.

But in the end, this friendship was no longer ruled by peace, but by our own colliding selfish desires and expectations.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. -Colossians 3:15

It is so easy to bump the peace of Christ from this position.

How often do we allow other things to rule in our hearts?

Fear. Heartbreak. Success. Selfishness. Etc. etc.

But without the peace of Christ as our guide, we stray from the path God intends us to walk along.

Without the peace of Christ ruling our hearts, the setbacks of friendship will break us.

Our friends can be our closest allies, our greatest support, and yet they hold the power to cause our biggest hurts and deepest frustrations.

As with any close relationship, our vulnerability invites opportunity for pain.

Sometimes at this realization, I quickly shrink back and close up, grasping at any sense of control or protection of my heart.

But that is exactly where Satan wants us - stuck in the fear of the fellowship God intended for us.

We need the peace of Christ to boldly love our friends despite the chance of hurt, betrayal, or heartbreak.

As we discover how to let that peace rule, we can begin to develop authentic and powerful friendships that last.

Letting Peace Rule

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. -Phillippians 4:8-9

Are you filling your mind with good, pure and true thoughts when it comes to your friendships?

Discovering peace goes hand in hand with taking control of your thought life.

When my thoughts focus on a hurtful comment or cancelled plan, I grow angry, frustrated and upset.

God wants us to give these things to Him and to instead fill our mind with His sufficiency.

When you focus on the sufficiency of Christ, peace will fill your heart and begin to permeate your friendships.

Be aware of what you are thinking about. Does it reflect something good, lovely, or praiseworthy?

Don’t let Satan win over your friendships by allowing him to direct your thoughts. Sometimes it takes an active effort to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.

What can you do this week to direct your thoughts to good as Paul has instructed us to do?

An Overflow of Patience

Patience flows from a heart at peace.

When we are cultivating peace in our lives, we will find the strength to be patient.

Do you ever notice that when you feel a lack of peace, patience is soon to go?

When I do not take the time to allow the peace of Christ to fill my heart, I find myself being impatient and easily irritable.

When I am relying on my friends to fill me, the pressure pushes away the opportunity for patience.

We can become so easily frustrated and discouraged when our friends let us down. But it is a heart of peace that will allow us to act in patience regardless of our disappointment.

The next time you see yourself growing impatient with a friend, consider what your expectations are. Are you expecting them to fill you with the peace that only God can?

As I look back on that broken friendship, I can’t help but see the ways in which Satan had a  hold. Does he have a hold on any of your friendships?

Take an honest look at each of your friendships. Is peace ruling your heart as your approach your sister or brother in Christ?

Take time to cultivate a heart of peace and you will see these fruits of the Spirit manifest in your friendships.

What have you done to grow peace and patience in your friendships despite difficult times?

fruit of the spirit

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  1. Such a good word, today, Nicole. One of the things I try to keep in mind is that — everyone is dealing with something. When a friendship disappoints us, it so often has nothing to do with us at all. Great perspective, friend. Thank you for sharing. ((hug))

  2. I really enjoyed reading this article, and can definitely relate.
    Cultivating relationships is hard work, and it’s even harder to maintain healthy, growing relationships.
    This gave me something to contemplate, as I navigate the seas of hurt, in some of my own friendships.
    Thank you for sharing!

    -Rachel (Chasing Community link up) πŸ˜‰

    1. It really is hard work. With God leading us, we will find the strength to work through difficult times in our friendships. Thanks for visiting!

  3. All so true and helpful! Yes and amen!

    I appreciate the question you ask us to ask ourselves when we grow impatient. So often my impatience is a result of wanting others to be what only God can be.

    1. I agree, Bethany! It can be so hard to acknowledge that, but so important to finding true peace and patience!

  4. “Patience flows from a heart at peace.”
    That is so true and I’m going to mediate on that this week. Friendship is so important and so challenging. It has been so different in my 30s than in my 20s, because of the intensity of life. It’s good to go back to the fundamentals!

    1. It really is so challenging! But that hard work is what creates beautiful friendships. Glad to hear you found some encouragement, Elizabeth!

  5. I’m so thankful for the friendships I have and how my friends and I have managed to avoid too many upsets in our relationships with each other over the years. But confrontation is honestly unavoidable in relationships (and I don’t think it’s inherently a bad thing either like some people say). It’s really healthy to be able to face conflict with maturity, wisdom, and patience and peace like you mentioned, and come out on the other side stronger and happier because of it. πŸ™‚

  6. It can really be a struggle sometimes but I think giving space and time to the other person helps to alleviate any negative energy. I don’t ignore or avoid them, just give the relationship time to heal. Great post πŸ™‚

  7. I hate confrontation so I usually just don’t say anything. That usually ends up in putting distance between myself and the friend or family member. I need to be better about cultivating patience and peace!

    1. It’s such a delicate balance, Heather, between honesty and grace. Sometimes I get so caught up being honest that I forget to let God’s grace be my guide. But it can easily be the other way around, when we are afraid to say anything and therefore Satan gets a foothold there too. But it really is a process, cultivating the peace and patience. I’m glad to hear you’re taking that step! πŸ™‚

  8. I keep quite. So many times it’s ou words on impulse that breaks the peace. I have learned that it’s not always necessary to speak you mind. Inspiring post! ?

    1. That one is hard for me, Marijon! I always feel the need to share my thoughts. But we are to be slow to speak and allow God’s grace and peace to guide us in our words. Great thoughts πŸ™‚

  9. As I read, I thought of a great group of friends my husband and I had, but lost each one due to selfishness and over-the-top expectations. Though we have moved on,and made other friends, these losses have left a hole in our hearts. And we still we feel the effects the loss has on us. Protecting ourself by pushing others away, choosing not to allow others to hurt us. It can be lonely when we do that.
    Yes it can taken the grace of God to walk that journey and we have learnt some of the very principles you mentioned here. Great post!Thank you.

    1. I definitely need God’s grace as I walk this journey too. It is really hard not to let our expectations get in the way. I’m in the same boat there. I’m sorry for your loss, Lureta, but I’m so glad you are walking forward with God’s grace πŸ™‚

  10. But without the peace of Christ as our guide, we stray from the path God intends us to walk along. Thank you Nicole for writing this post- I often think about some friendships that have broken apart, and I know there was a lack of peace that guided… sigh. I’m striving to be more patient in my current friendships so the past doesn’t repeat itself.

    1. Thanks, Sue! I completely agree, it’s hard to look back. I’m glad you are walking forward and striving for peace and patience πŸ™‚

  11. I love this. I was just talking to my daughter about this last night. We may get hurt or hurt others, but humbling ourselves to God and not just walking away from a relationship is the braver thing to do.

    I’ve been there and definitely do not want my children to have to experience the same thing, but if they ever do, I pray it is not from their own willingness to walk away.

    1. Facing the hurt is one of the hardest things, especially in friendships. I’m so glad to hear that you are teaching your daughter the same. It is powerful when we walk forward in forgiveness and trust in God! Thanks, Kristi!

  12. Such a beautifully written post, it really struck a chord with me. Over the past few years I have lost a friendship that meant so much to me but was ultimately destructing my peace. No matter how I tried to find ways around it, the kindest thing to do, was to let it go. I can look back with a smile now and know it was the right thing but it doesn’t make it any easier.

    1. It really can be so hard, Hannah, but I’m glad to hear you’re seeking after God in it. Thank you for sharing!

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