Friendships need TLC (tender loving care) even when they’re stable and sure, but they require an extra level of care when your relationship is on rocky ground. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about friendships and how to preserve them while working on my new book The Gift of Friendship, which releases next week.

Occasionally even the closest friendships experience turbulent seasons. Whether you weather them together or drift apart may depend on your attitude and actions. Here are two ways to help maintain friendships during hard times.

Kill ‘Em with Kindness

“It doesn’t matter what I say or what I do, I just can’t make her happy,” I grumbled in frustration at a time when a friend took offense no matter what I did.

“Kill her with kindness,” my mother advised. “Don’t be provoked. Don’t get an attitude. Just be as nice as you can, and it will be okay.” My mother was wise that way. And she was right: the change in my words and attitude reconciled a strained relationship.

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. {Colossians 3:12-13}

It’s hard to stay mad at someone who is nice to you and refuses to be provoked.

This simple practice — kill ‘em with kindness — helps diffuse tension and keeps you from saying things you might regret, permanently damaging a relationship.

rain soaked leaf

Let the Lord Defend You

I once saw a friend refuse to defend himself in the face of harsh and unfair criticism. “I have to allow the Lord to defend me,” he said. Honestly, it amazed me he could hold his tongue.

The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. {Psalm 18:2-3}

There may come a time when friends mistake your motives, unfairly judge you, or say untrue or unkind things about you to other people. Instinctively you’ll want to correct them and defend yourself. Can you hold your tongue?

Trust that others know you well enough not to believe untrue things and that the Lord will defend you. It may not be easy, but we are strongest when we rely on God and not ourselves.

Draw closer to Him when you’re under attack. Tell Him your complaints instead of fighting back. Ask Him to be your judge and keep you from behaving defensively or in anger.

Allow Him to defend you.

Can you share a time when you responded to hostility with kindness or when you allowed the Lord to defend you? Or a time when you didn’t and it made a bad situation worse?

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  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    I believe our mothers could be sisters…I, too, heard the “kill ‘em with kindness” mantra. There is a lot of truth to that. When I was younger, I held my tongue, but then I would mull and stew over what had been said to me. I couldn’t let it go. As I’ve gotten older (and hopefully, wiser), I’ve been better able to turn it over to the Lord and let Him be the ultimate judge. The Lord will fight for me, I need only to be still (Exodus 14:14). I’ve also learned that over time, if given enough rope, accusers will tend to hang themselves figuratively. Time and letting God be God has a way of sifting the flour. Also, just being grateful for friends, period, helps me get a handle of what to hang onto and what to let go. Great post…looking forward to your book!!

    • http://myhomesweethomeonline.net/ Dawn Camp

      We have wise mothers, yes? :) You are so right, you can’t hold your tongue and then stew about it, but hand it to the Lord and let it go. (I can’t hear those words without the Frozen soundtrack starting up in my head!)

      Yes, check out the new book! It releases Tuesday but is available for pre-order. It’s showing up in stock at B&N stores.

  • Kim Duvall

    Wow!!! What a beautiful article – thank you so much for this reminder – I know that Gods ways are perfect , so I know this is the best way to let the Lord defend us – I have had a hard time letting God defend me and just trying to defend myself- and it never turns out the best when I try to do things on my own – the Lord is teaching means it is hard especially with your immediate family- I do need HIS help and strength in this area and every other area in my life – I am learning each day to trust HIM and I will be honest it isn’t always easy when I think I can do things on my own- I cannot – so I could truly use some prayer in this area! Again – thank you for such a great reminder of Gods beautiful truths

    • http://myhomesweethomeonline.net/ Dawn Camp

      I had a friend remind me this weekend—yes, I struggle with this too—that if you tell someone that your relationship is okay after a rocky period, then you have to stick to that and move on. Don’t make up and then hold a grudge.

      • Kim Duvall

        That is true – those are wise words – I do struggle with letting God defending me ! I know His ways are best – thank you for sharing these truths

  • Lynn D. Morrissey

    Dawn, I really appreciate this post, because I know it is true. So often, perhaps even when we have been offended, the continuation of our friendship will depend upon *us*. And that is so difficult. When we have been hurt, offended, or wrongly accused, our natural tendency is to withdraw, retaliate, or defend. None of these responses will help heal the friendship and perpetuate it. That happened to me a couple of years ago–when I was deeply hurt by a friend. My reaction was to finally give up trying to reconcile and to withdraw. But I knew this was not God’s heart. He wants us to keep peace whenever it is possible for us to do so, to forgive, and to reconcile. So I kept reaching out in kindness (not *my* natural proclivity–I truly needed humility and His help to do so), but it still wasn’t working. Finally, I wrote a letter asking for forgiveness for anything I had unknowingly done to offend her–any sin I had committed against her. That broke the ice, and it broke her heart. She said I’d not done anything. We are friends again today, and it is as if nothing happened. Your mother was right! And I think that even though my friend did not initially respond to my overtures of kindness, they paved the way for her ultimate response and our reconciliation. Having friends and working on friendships is worth it, isn’t it, Dawn? Your lovely new book proves that! I hope everyone will run to Amazon and order one! I loved it.
    Blessings to you, friend!

    • http://myhomesweethomeonline.net/ Dawn Camp

      What a great testimony! You reaped the benefit of seeking reconciliation because you valued your friendship. Thank you for all you’ve done to promote the book!

  • karen

    A few years ago, I had to be silent and it was SOOOOOOOOOOO hard, but in the end it really was the best course! Nothing I said would have been accepted because my friend was very angry and hurt over a perceived betrayal. We never talked about it again, but we did remain friends!

    • http://myhomesweethomeonline.net/ Dawn Camp

      It sounds like you handled your situation wisely and therefore kept a friend!

  • Anna Smit

    Dawn, such truth in your words, just like the Scripture: ““Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle in the rear.” James 1:19

    God’s been patiently teaching me this, while also showing me how to tell the truth in love, to set the boundaries I am called to and stop both anger from growing and festering and to stop me from turning to gossip instead . He’s been showing me how to do so lovingly and in grace: which always involves shutting my mouth and taking it to God first!

    Thanks for your words of encouragement.

    • http://myhomesweethomeonline.net/ Dawn Camp

      Oh, Anna, we could all learn a lot from shutting our mouths and taking it to God first!

  • Beth Williams

    Mothers are wise!! There are times when I perceived something said as a negative against me. I realized that it was just frustration on the part of the other person. God helped me to keep my mouth shut and pray about the situation. In that way we remained friends.

    The Bible states: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

    Blessings :)