A young Hound started a Hare, and, when he caught her up, would at one moment snap at her with his teeth as though he were about to kill her, while at another he would let go his hold and frisk about her, as if he were playing with another dog. At last the Hare said, “I wish you would show yourself in your true colours! If you are my friend, why do you bite me? If you are my enemy, why do you play with me?”
Moral: He is no friend who plays double.
– “The Hound and the Hare”, a fable of Aesop
We’ve all probably known her at one point or another: the friend that can’t decide whether to go or stay; the friend that can’t decide whether she loves me, or she loves me not. Such a friend slowly detaches herself from your life until at last, the friendship that once was becomes nothing but a bittersweet memory, never to be enjoyed again.
Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. – Psalm 41:9
One of the most underrated heartbreaks one can experience is the heartbreak of a fractured friendship. The slow loss of a friend is a pain that we mourn in silence, for a friendship’s end is not marked by an obituary, a writ of divorce, or a termination notice. Fractured friendships leave behind no tangible evidence, but only an invisible wound to the heart.
For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, then I could bear it; nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, then I could hide myself from him. But it is you, a man my equal, my companion and my familiar friend; we who had sweet fellowship together walked in the house of God in the throng. – Psalm 55:12-13
If you have ever had to ask yourself if your friend “loves you” or “loves you not”, if you have ever been hit with the painful realization that she is pulling away from your camaraderie, if you have ever felt the bitter sting of betrayal because she didn’t hold your friendship in the same esteem that you did…I understand your ache, and I am truly sorry. I can’t make your disloyal friend come back; but what I can do is extend a loyal hand of friendship to you, and I can share a few things I have learned through my own injurious experience.
There are three facts about a fractured friendship that need to be accepted before proper healing can take place in your heart. The first fact is:
“Well this sounds nice, doesn’t it? She loves me!”
But did you notice the comma? A sad reality with some friends is that they are not in it for the long haul, but will only love you for a time. While you were seeing a kindred spirit reflected in your friend, a real bosom buddy that you connected with and wanted to hang onto forever; she only saw you as a temporary bit of cheer. She viewed you as disposable.
King David acquired a fair-weather friend such as this when he was a young man. In 1 Samuel 16, we learn that Saul, the first king of Israel, had been contending with “an evil spirit” that “terrorized” him. Saul’s servants advised him to find a skilled harpist to soothe him whenever he found himself in distress. Saul agreed with this idea and commanded, “provide for me now a man who can play well and bring him to me.” (v. 17) We all know the famous harpist who was chosen: David. Notice Saul’s strong emotional reaction upon their meeting:
Then David came to Saul and attended him; and Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor bearer. Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Let David now stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight.” – 1 Samuel 16:21-22 (emphasis added)
David was in with the king! He had risen from his lifestyle as a common shepherd boy and become Saul’s personal entertainer and armor bearer. Saul was crazy about this kid and made quick friends with him. Unfortunately, Saul was not committed to be a forever friend to David. Saul was a “he loves me comma” kinda pal. Now, with a true friend, there is no comma after “he/she loves me”. In fact, Proverbs 17:17a says that, “A friend loves at all times”. Saul certainly did not love David at all times or for all time. In fact, this new “friend” of David’s would one day be transformed into his number one enemy.
If your gal pal is as fickle in heart as Saul was toward David, then you’ll need to accept that “she loves me comma” will soon be exchanged for the bitter fact that:
If you are a true friend, it’s hard to swallow that not everyone has a loyal heart like yours. You think, “how could someone just walk away without so much as a parting glance, when they meant so much to me?” If you allow your mind to dwell on your friend’s departure, questions such as these will plague your thoughts and the injustice of it all will drive you mad. Painful as it is, you have to realize that she’s not like you. Perhaps your friend never truly cared for you to begin with, or something happened that turned her away; but the fact remains that she doesn’t share your sense of loyalty…when she is done with you, she is done. You can try to hold onto the friendship with all your might, but if your friend doesn’t return your love, the tightest grasp will not keep her. Let her go, allow yourself to mourn the fellowship that is lost, and keep your heart soft so that you can be a loyal friend to others who will return your devotion.
I know what you might be thinking. Try as you may to move on, the question still begs to be asked: “why does she love me not“? If you showed yourself to be a good friend, what could have caused the fractured friendship? Sadly, no matter how true of a friend you are, there are numerous reasons a friendship can fracture. Here are just a few that the Bible mentions:
Friendships can fracture if your friend becomes jealous (as in the case of Joseph’s brothers). Genesis 37:4 says that, “His brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and so they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms.”
Friendships can fracture if your friend listens to gossip about you. We learn in Proverbs 16:28 & 17:9 that gossip has an uncanny ability of “separating intimate friends”.
Friendships can fracture if your friend decides that you’re no longer the life of the party. Proverbs 19:4 reveals that “wealth adds many friends, but a poor man is separated from his friend”. v. 7 goes on to say that “all the brothers of a poor man hate him;how much more do his friends abandon him! He pursues them with words, but they are gone.“
In Saul and David’s case, the reason for their fractured friendship was Saul’s severe jealousy. In 1 Samuel 18:7 (right after David had returned home from killing Goliath) women sang this chant: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” Saul was enraged by jealousy at these words, and he allowed this jealousy to grow into hatred. 1 Samuel 18:9 marks the beginning of troubles for David: “Saul looked at David with suspicion from that day on.” What started as a promising friendship would never again be revisited. Saul’s jealousy drove him to deceive David, scheme against David, relentlessly chase after David, and attempt to murder David (on more than one occasion). Saul had foolishly allowed the words of some local fan-girls to have such an impact on him as to permanently fracture a friendship beyond repair.
If your gal pal has pulled a King Saul move and bid your friendship farewell, there is one very significant fact that I want you to remember. You would do well to remind yourself that even though your friendship with her has ended in a resounding “she loves me not“, you have one Friend that will never leave you nor forsake you. Your friendship with God continues with a resounding:
Even if every person you know should turn their back on you, never will you be truly friendless as long as you have the Lord in your life. He will never turn his back on a friend. He will never show himself to be disloyal. He will never break your heart. His friendship is the real deal.
A man of too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. – Proverbs 18:24
When David fell out of favor with Saul, he did not fall out of favor with God. Saul saw David as a rival.God saw David as “a man after His own heart”. (Acts 13:22b) Saul inspired David to run from him. God inspired David to run to Him. Saul was David’s fair-weather friend. God was David’s forever friend. And He will likewise be a friend to you and me. We can choose to walk away from God, but He will never choose to walk away from us. Though the loss of human friendship undoubtedly inflicts pain to the heart, one can find comfort in His love.
A word of advice: don’t let a fractured friendship make you bitter. Just because your friend wasn’t willing to stick by you until the end, doesn’t mean that everybody is like her. Faithful hearts are hard to find, but just as sure as one exists in you, such a heart exists in another. Don’t write off future friendships, for our God has a way of “restoring the years that the locusts have eaten”. (Joel 2:25a) It just may be that He sends a true friend into your life that will not abandon you like the one who “loves you not”. This was certainly true for David. He found the truest friend in a man named Jonathan…ironically, this was Saul’s own son. It is said of Jonathan that he “loved David as himself.” (1 Samuel 18:3b) Even with all the troubles that David endured on account of his fractured friendship with Saul, David had faithful comrades in the Lord and Jonathan. David could truly say of them both: “He loves me.”
Has your heart been put through the ringer by a friend? Remember: whether she loves you, or she loves you not…He loves you. She may have turned her back on you, but God will do no such thing. Draw near to Him, and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8) Focus on being the kind of friend that you wish your friend would have been. Keep that loyal heart of yours tender, and determine that you, unlike her, “do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend.” (Proverbs 27:10a)
David’s friendship, your friendship, and mine…fractured, every one. These friendships may be fractured beyond repair, but we are not. We pick up the fragments of our aching hearts and rise as stronger people for the lessons we have learned. We grow from the friends who loved us, and from the friends who loved us not, because we have a Friend who loves.
We are made of all those who have built and broken us.
– Atticus Poetry
For God’s glory, Mrs. Dustin Bolks
Chaste Bolks is a church of Christ preacher’s wife, and the home educating mother of two children. She and her family currently reside in Northwest Iowa.