Forgiving Unrepentant Friends

So, I’ve decided to join in on the friendship conversation, as one who has many genuine friendships herself. Social media has been consumed with this subject lately – it has decided to take a break from the usual boy meets girl, boy beats girl, and boy dumps girl type of talk to focus on this important aspect of life. As I ponder the topic of friendships, friendship breakups come to mind. Friendships end for several reasons, but I’ll speak from the standpoint of betrayal and subsequent unrepentant behaviour. Betrayals are very difficult to navigate. Psalm 55:14 says – “For it is not an enemy who taunts me – then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me – then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend.” What makes a betrayal sting more than any other type of hurt is that it comes from someone you trust. Forgiveness, which is expected of Christians, becomes even more difficult when the individual who betrayed you doesn’t see the wrong they have done to you. Worse still, rather than taking responsibility for their behaviour, they make excuses for it. 

I was once in this type of circumstance when about nine years ago, a young man came into town (some of you are already thinking – of course it must be about a man). At that time, I was done with university and was still trying to figure out what the next phase of my life would be. I met him at a party, and we immediately began dating. However, somewhere down the line, he started seeing one of my very good friends. She was like a big sister to me; my family knew her, we lived in the same apartment complex, and I had a key to her apartment – that was how close we were. Well, until I found out that she was physically involved with the person I was in a relationship with at the same time. That broke my heart. I couldn’t comprehend it when it was revealed. As she told me those words, “I have been intimately involved with him since you began dating him,” every other statement after that sounded like gibberish. My heart was torn into shreds. Don’t get me wrong, I knew the person I was dating was messing around with multiple women, but I never thought for a second that my friend was one of them. It was that added element of betrayal that drove me to Christ because I had never experienced a pain so deep. The worst part was that she didn’t care. She tried to paint a picture that we were never close as she told another friend, “We were just acquaintances.” The feeling is the same as when you think you are in a committed relationship with a guy who says, “It wasn’t that deep”. I had been friends with her for about eight years (!) before this incident broke out.

Our lives were so intertwined that we attended and served in the same small church. So, after I became privy to what she had been doing behind my back, I’d still see her whenever I went to church. I began strategizing to make sure I didn’t attend the same service as she did. But let’s just say my strategy never worked out – any service I chose to go to, thinking she wasn’t going to be there, was the one she was present in. Jumping up and down in the front row, singing praises to Christ while I was at the back of the auditorium watching her and thinking, “How can you praise God in this manner when you hurt your friend like this?” Okay, okay, I get it, she said we weren’t friends. After church, she’d walk past me (if there is anything straighter than a straight face, insert that here) and act as though I never existed. I remember calling one of my good friends who lived out of town, crying about this, and she would comfort me. But there came a time when I could no longer stomach her behaviour. So, I went out of town for a short period. In that season of my life, I was also trusting God to change a lot of things. I wanted a job that would file for me, so I’d remain in the United States, I still wanted to get married (believe it or not), and I wanted to move out of the city I was in – I just wanted things to change. Yet, I had this hindrance – this unforgiveness, and utter detest for my former friend. I was left to confront what was brewing in my heart by myself. I remember becoming so bitter that when people would say, “You need to forgive her…”, I would get so angry! How can one forgive a person who doesn’t want your forgiveness? Who doesn’t care how much they hurt you? Who has moved on with their life as though nothing happened?

If you are currently experiencing this, there is someone who knows exactly how you feel yet calls you to act differently. Romans 5:8 says, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Even when we were his enemies and reviled him in the way we lived our lives, that didn’t derail him from becoming the substitute for our punishment. So, if there was anyone who knew exactly how I felt, it was God. There I was thinking that I needed to get rid of the bitterness in my heart, just so God could answer my prayers without wahala, but God wanted something else from me – my whole heart. He desired to strip me of the sinful way I had lived my life ever since I became knowledgeable of what was good and evil. As such, He began to deal with me, discipline me, and teach me his ways. It was no longer about my friend; it was now about me and God. That was when He took me on a journey where He finally freed me from the clutches of pornography and fornication. He refined me and gave me a new life. It was after I was forgiven of my own sins, (and I began to see clearly) that my heart became open to forgive my friend freely without holding any grudges.

When we pray the Lord’s prayer, we say, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…” When we realize what Christ did for us on the cross and that we often sin and offend God, then we will become humble enough to forgive those who hurt us. It doesn’t mean that their hurt doesn’t sting, it doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t take you time to get over it (depending on the severity of the situation). My process took about 10 months for me to be able to be in the same space with her and not feel hatred. So, with God’s help, you can forgive those who betray you, even those who say to you – “I don’t need your forgiveness.” Chai! I have seen something in this life sha (haha).

Evi Idoghor is an accomplished freelance writer with an impressive portfolio that includes over ten books and more than 400 articles. Driven by a profound passion for storytelling, she has embarked on diverse collaborations with various authors, breathing life into their stories and conveying their messages with remarkable skill and creativity during her four-year professional writing journey.

Throughout her career, Evi has garnered a notable reputation for her exceptional expertise in a wide array of writing genres. Her talents shine particularly in the realms of creative non-fiction storytelling, captivating fiction, engaging lifestyle pieces, thought-provoking opinion articles, and heartfelt Christian content. To read more of her content, you can subscribe to her Substack newsletter via