FAMILY & FRIENDS

 

FAMILY MATTERS

How should we deal with parents who are against us being involved with church activities?

                In any conflict, there's a difference between each person's POSITION and their INTEREST.  Take for example, a guy who wants to go to prom and hang out till late at night (let's say 3am). His parents allow him to go, but tell him he has to be back by 11pm.  His position is: return by 3am.  Their position is: return by 11pm. 

                But the INTERESTS of each side is the reason why they hold their positions.  His interest is: hangout with friends, have fun, enjoy the special occasion.  Their interest is: safety, sobriety, supervision, discretion about staying out with a date so late at night.  To resolve that kind of a conflict, a solution has to be found that is directed at satisfying the INTERESTS of the group, not the POSITIONS.  So maybe he says that he'll bring the group of friends over to his own home or a home that his parents know, and he'll call every half hour or hour to check in a let them know he's okay and not getting into trouble. Maybe he can have his parents also talk to the parents of the house, to know there's supervision.  It's not a perfect solution, but you can imagine that the parents would be less reluctant to go with that course of action instead of just letting their son disappear until 3am at night.

                Apply that understanding to the parent/church conflict.  Parents might tell you not to participate in church activity. That's their POSITION.  What's their interest? I'm betting it's something along the lines of school priorities, financial difficulty, or possibly even familial disconnection.  If it's about school, then I'd recommend taking time to study WHERE YOUR PARENTS CAN SEE YOU.  That makes a difference. If you study in your room or somewhere private, they don't know you're actually studying. If they see you doing your homework or reading or whatever, then they're not going to wonder as much about whether or not you're taking care of your work. Now, if you don't like studying in front of parents because it prevents you from going on Facebook or Oovoo or Instant Messenger or something like that, then they're actually pretty justified in thinking you don't have the discipline to handle your business.
                But I think it's also important to reinforce your family relationships as you get more involved in church. Parents will find it easy to think that church is taking you away from them. You prefer to spend less time at home (their home) and always want to be at church (where they aren't involved in your department). Whatever wonderful reasons you give them, it still represents to them a major disconnection in your relationship. I'd be sure to sit and eat dinner with them during the week, tell them about stuff you're learning or studying or events you're looking forward to at church. Basically, let them know about your life in detail. If someone asked them about what you do during the day, who your friends are, what you like, and what you hate, how accurately and fully could they answer? They have to blame something if they're out of the loop, and sadly church becomes that enemy to them.

                There's no easy answer and I'm not trying to say that what I suggested is a magic cure. But I do think it helps if you take it seriously. Be prepared to sacrifice. If you want to invest in church, you also have to invest in parents. It takes twice the work. You can't expect to just focus on one.

 

My parents place their faith in money rather than God.  How can I help them?

                I think that if you want your parents to see the value of life beyond the value of money, show them appreciation and love and foster a healthy relationship with good communication of you, your life, and your support of their effort. Don't ask for what you don't need, remind them how rich you are in their love, and pray with them if they're willing. If you tried praying with them but they refused, then just remind them occasionally that you're praying for them. If your relationship with your parents is really just a dynamic of them giving you stuff and you studying hard, that will only feed their understanding of what their purpose is (namely, to make more money). Your life and your interaction with them should testify of God in heaven, not you on earth. Then see if there's a change.

 

Is it wrong to dislike parents who drink too much and are abusive?  Should we run away from them?

                Hate the sin, love the sinner. By "love" I don't mean you have to feel fuzzy warmness towards the person, but it does mean prioritizing them over yourself in how you treat them with the intent to grow them in godliness. 

                Physical and mental abuse are too often flexible terms that kids throw around whenever they don't like how they're being treated. Being clearer on what you mean by that would help define the situation a bit better, since every reader of this question will have different boundaries on what "abuse" really is. Is spanking physical abuse in your opinion? Is name-calling mental abuse? Does that mean mental abuse happens on the basketball courts, and players should run away from them?

                Running away is hardly a solution. It's...well, it's running away from the problem...like, literally. Maybe it's appropriate sometimes, but I've only come across those situations on EXTREMELY rare occasions. If anything, time away might be good only with the intent of returning and reconciling. But even then, I don't recommend that course of action unless there are issues of addiction involved, in which removing one's self from temptation is necessary. 

 

What's the best way to deal with unbelieving parents?  Will I not see them in heaven after they die?

                I'm really going to try to answer this question completely, but it's just as much a HEART issue as it is a MIND issue. What I mean by that is, whatever information I put on the page is only going to give you reasons, but it won't be able to communicate the compassion and fellowship that is really necessary to deal with something like this. Learn what you can from whatever I can offer here, but really talk about this in person with your spiritual accountability, including people in your small group and your pastor. There's something about the human touch that can't be found in paragraphs.

                The Reality: If your parents aren't saved, they're not going to be in heaven. Salvation is, by its very definition, a rescue from destruction. It snatches us off the path toward Hell and places us on the path toward heaven. Its effects are evidenced in our present living and are fulfilled in our eternal destinies. Salvation is not in morality or human effort or achievement, but is found only by repenting of sin and placing full faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ who died to atone for our sins and was raised back to life in victory over death as a sign that we too are given a new life to live.

                Some Historical and Contemporary Understanding.: Your parents have authority over you. You are not on equal ground with them, as though you could go up and educate them on life and worldview. Their experience is significant and very valuable, which is why it can also cause them to have trouble taking your opinions seriously, especially when in conflict with their own.
Their position of authority makes it difficult, then, for you to come and CORRECT their understanding of God and the world. This relationship dynamic was also true for wives who had unbelieving husbands back when the Bible was being written. Husbands held a more direct and obvious authority over their wives than what is practiced even in Western Christian families today. Because of their position of authority, it was difficult for wives to come and correct their understanding of God and the world.

                Peter speaks to the believing wives in this context in 1 Peter 3:1-2. His instruction is about womanhood, but an undertone of his message demonstrates the power he places on living testimony. A pure and godly life is an incredible witness that works in the hearts of those who see it. It's like we always say: actions speak louder than words.   If you want to reach your parents, the best way is to live blamelessly before them. This is going to come with a considerable amount of sacrifice, especially because parents aren't big fans of their kids being on the internet, texting, or otherwise choosing recreation over their studies. It means you have to study hard IN THEIR SIGHT so they know how much you invest in the same priorities that they have for you. And then on top of that you have to love your family, spending time with them and prioritizing your relationship with them over that of your friends. A weekly dinner night or something could help. Keeping them informed of what you're doing, who your friends are, what goes on in your mind at school, etc. allows them to see life through the context of your eyes.  Once they understand that the Church is not replacing school or family, only then can it really be a witness that could draw them. Understanding Christ should FIX your family values, not separate them. It should bring you to honor your parents, not ignore them. 

                Finally, be prepared to minister in this way for a VERY long time. People don't change worldviews overnight, and a testimony isn't credible unless it's been witnessed for years. Any godly change that comes out of you could be interpreted as a phase you're going through, not a direction you're following.  

                And, of course, every individual chooses for themselves whether or not to accept Christ. He or she cannot be mind controlled, no matter how hard a child tries.   Your job is to present the saving power of Jesus Christ to them by the way you live: in all you think, and say, and do. Their job is to repent and believe. If you do your part, then at that point your prayers (which should be bathing every part of your life) are what you rely on to ask God to bring as much conviction to your parents as possible, so that they might one day decide for themselves (by the power of the Holy Spirit) to believe.

 

How can I comfort someone who is having family problems?

                I'm not an expert at this, especially because every individual person has an individual personality, and what might comfort one friend may frustrate another.

                My approach would be to simply meet them emotionally where they are at. Sometimes we just need people to cry with. Relate your understanding of the situation and how it makes them feel, and how you'll do your best to listen in those moments where your friend needs to talk. 

                But I would be somewhat hesitant to offer solutions. A lot of times that can come off as condescending (making the situation sound simple, and the friend seems dumb for not doing it the way you prescribe). Also, solutions are often obvious, and we don't always talk to people to find out what to do. Most of the time, we talk to people because we're really just trying to think out loud and assess ourselves emotionally and rationally. I'd give advice when it's asked for or when it's really needed. If your friend is the CAUSE of many of those family problems, a gentle word can help. But if your friend is the WITNESS to these problems (such as parents fighting with each other or with a sibling), then advice is really not a solution to the cause.

                Get in the habit of praying with and for your friends for these things. If it's awkward, start it off by letting them know you'll pray for them. Talk to them at a later date and tell them what you've been praying for, and ask for updates. Following up on these things is definitely more effective than the single conversation that takes place when someone is hurting. Your friend needs to know that you didn't forget--because your friend didn't forget either!--and it matters to you enough that you're thinking about it during the week and want to know how it's turning out. 

                If you remove prayer from your attempt at comforting, you're choosing not to ask God to help your friend understand these things. If you keep your friend and yourself in prayer, you might be surprised at how your friend begins to discern whether or not the family situation is the product of someone's sin, or a difficult circumstance that calls them to persevere, or a moment where two people have to learn how to submit to one another. In all three cases, there is a call to repent and believe.

My mom always compares me with other kids.  How can I ignore this?  It really hurts, but she doesn't seem to care. 

                One of the solutions seems to be to try and find a way to have your mom stop comparing you to other people, but that won't actually fix the problem entirely. What is it that your mom expects from you? Are you giving your best effort? Are you letting her SEE you give your best effort?
                For instance, moms usually want good grades. Students study, but they usually study by themselves in their rooms, late at night, or at least by themselves. To a mom, it feels like her kid doesn't study because she doesn't SEE it. If you studied right in front of her for however many hours you need to, maybe she wouldn't think you're giving less than your best? I don't really know because I don't know your mom (and I don't even know who you are), but being visible in front of your mom is really important.

How should I respond when my mom tells me to pray about grades, school, and general worries that are more about earthly success?  Should I just nod? 

                Given our Korean culture, the best way to teach a parent is by example, not by verbal correction. If she tells you to pray about grades and those things, go ahead and pray a prayer of thanks for the education you have, ask for God's power to help you be diligent in your studies, and request humility in accepting whatever results you gain from your best efforts--even if they're not perfect scores.  Pray that God would help you see that your future college doesn't change what He can do with you, but it does change what you're doing for Him. Glorify Him with your academic habits, your perspective on honesty and hard work, your prioritizing of loving people over earning money, and your determination to do well and be thankful no matter what.  If you keep doing that and communicating that to your mom, it will start to really define your values and your wisdom. With time, hopefully it will minister to her and challenge her own faith.

 

What does the Bible say about spanking children?

                We definitely know that God expects us to discipline our children. Hebrews 12:1-13 is where Paul explains how God Himself disciplines His own children.  Different proverbs will also show us that the people from biblical times used physical discipline. 

1) Proverbs 13:24 says that spanking your child (with a rod) is a way to love him.

2) Proverbs 22:15 and 29:15 and 17 tell us that spanking is a way to drive out foolishness, impart wisdom (on the child) and gain peace (for yourself as your child grows to know right from wrong). (also 10:13)

3) Proverbs 19:18 and 23:14 actually considers spanking to be a major tool of evangelizing your child!

                What's interesting to me is that Scripture is where we find the most adamant instruction to actually use corporate punishment, and also the strongest warnings against abandoning it. God instructs us to spank our children to discipline them.  To be clear, spanking is never meant to injure the child nor humiliate him. It's a way to communicate consequence, not satisfy a parent's rage. In fact, I don't think it's appropriate for a parent to spank their children from a primary motivation of anger. Sure, parents will be angry if their child is misbehaving, but discipline should always be done with love in mind, to direct the child in the right way and demonstrate for him a mature handling of the parent's understanding and action.  If a child sees dad screaming at him and hitting him as if to vent all his anger out, that child will learn to imitate the same thing: hit people and damage things when you're mad. But if a child sees his dad telling him what he did wrong and explaining that the consequences are deserved, then gets spanked, the child will understand that actions have repercussions--bad behavior has bad results.

                But I think the most compelling argument favor spanking is a psychological one. Babies and children that are not hugged and held and kissed often get sick and die, and almost always grow up with distrust and despair in their relationships. You cannot communicate affection to a child without touch. This is because the child is not old enough and mentally aware enough to grasp the abstract concepts of loyalty and fidelity and consistency and love. The child doesn't understand language, expression, or principle. Their vision is poor so they don't pick up nuances of faces, and their hearing is weak so they cannot distinguish pitch and tone very well.

                Physical communication is the primary means by which children learn. It's how you tell a child you're playing, how you soothe your child to sleep, and how you let your child feel protected. No amount of explanation will substitute for that in the beginning years.  The same is true for discipline. Explaining it or making your child sit in a different room ("timeout") does not register well, since those are built on communicating principle and abstract concept. What a child can do far better is associate certain behaviors with physically unpleasant results.

                Reward your child properly for the behavior he exhibits. When he is good, so is the consequence he receives. When he does something bad, the same is true.

 

What do you think about single people adopting?

                Ideally, every child ought to be raised by a father and a mother who are married to each other in a healthy, loving relationship under the lordship of Jesus Christ.  When a single person adopts, instead of a married couple, there are a variety of challenges that need to be handled: The child has less parental supervision and lacks one of the two major role models from which s/he develops a stable worldview, particularly on issues like gender, authority, relationship, marriage, commitment, and family.

                If a person can surround the child with the proper godly, consistent influence that will supplement the inherent disadvantage of single-parenting, then I think it is a good idea to adopt. I say this only out of concern for the orphan, not so much for the sake of satisfying a single person's desire to be a parent. There are so many children in need and not enough homes that want them. To find a person with a sincere and resolute desire to adopt is rare and very valuable. It's better (in my opinion) to put an orphan in a single-parent home that will raise him/her in good instruction and example, rather than leave the child in an orphanage. The child needs a home and parents. Having one parent is better than having none. But the single parent really has to make sure s/he can provide adequately for the child's physical and spiritual needs.

 

My dad will get really mad at me and say mean things, but then like 5 hours later he'll just talk to me like nothing happened, trying to be happy. How can I show him love, not hold a grudge, and accept his hope to be happy while it's so difficult for me to forget the things he said to me just a little time ago?
                There's really no easy answer to this in terms of how to feel better, but maybe there's something to consider in terms of understanding his behavior. My dad sounds a LOT like what you just described here, and I've learned that his temper is difficult for him to handle. A lot of times he would be letting off steam and it would come at my expense. I had to learn not to hold that against him so personally, but to really start praying for him and hoping that the real cause of his stress and frustration would be eased. I also had to try hard not to give him a reason to be upset with me. That meant keeping my room clean and going to bed on time and stuff--the usual things that he might blow at me for.
                But I think I understood him better when I realized that it's just not in his nature to apologize. Actually, saying sorry is a very western kind of way of dealing with guilt or regret. My Korean dad wasn't born and raised in America. He grew up in a country where apologies had no real meaning of validity. All they did was bring shame and expose weakness--two things you never would want to do to yourself or your family in an honor-based culture. 
For my dad, when he felt bad about something, he had to DO something about it, not SAY something about it. That meant buying me pizza or taking me to the movies or something like that. He expressed his efforts to repair the rift in the relationship by his actions instead of words.
                If that's the case with your dad, I think realizing it will help you understand when he's really trying to "say sorry" in the way that he grew up doing it. Hopefully recognizing that effort will help you to release any grudge you might hold and more readily forgive him if he was unfairly harsh on you. 
                Always, though, bear in mind that he gets on your case when either you deserve it or he's releasing pent-up frustration from something else. In the former case, fix what you're doing. In the latter case, pray for him and try to help in any way you can, even if it means random acts of kindness like vacuuming the living room before he comes home from work. Small actions like that go a long way in making him feel like his life isn't a broken mess.

 

FRIENDSHIP

What should I do about a friend who is running away and wants to stay at my place?  His parents are always yelling at him.

                That depends on context. If he's running from danger, house him and notify his parents (and the police if need be). Assure them of his safety and take care of him as long as he needs, as long as he and his parents are moving in the direction of reconciliation and safety.  If he's running away because he is disobedient, I wouldn't support him. Your principles are more important than that. Sheltering him when he has a home available to him only enables him to continue in his sin.

                The use of the word "always" tells me your perception of the situation is at least a little compromised. Is it possible that your friend has ever merited that kind of behavior? Is it possible that his parents ever are kind to him?  I'm not trying to be uncaring, but really the idea that needs to be understood is children are to obey their parents, and parents are not to exasperate their children (Ephesians 6:1-4). It's the fifth commandment (Exodus 20:12). When one party fails to carry out his function, that does not excuse the other party from carrying out his own. Each member is expected to carry out his role unconditionally--that's the bond of love that needs to exist in every family, to not give up when the other person fails.

                Your friend's time with parents is limited. He will eventually move out and have rules of his own for his own household. Until then, it's wise for him to consider that maybe his parents' instruction is beneficial (though abrasive), and abandoning their protection is a pretty direct disregard for the provision and blessings that he's received. Does he have clothes, shelter, food, computer, cell phone, education, health, and friendship? Did he provide himself with those things apart from the influence his parents have played in his life? Given that he's now in the richest and most affluent 0.05% of the world, which is more appropriate: gratitude or complaint?

                I'm not saying his parents are innocent, but I am saying he's blessed. His life isn't perfect, but by running away it's only going to present more ridiculous problems, unless he thinks he can take his parents' stuff with him (like money, car, etc.) or expects them to continue to provide for his needs during his time of rebellion (like paying for college, providing his documentation to obtain things like a passport, birth certificate, social security card, driver's license, etc.).

 

Is it wrong to be friends with unbelievers?  Didn't Jesus love unbelievers?

                Yes, Jesus loved sinners. But his love for them was not in celebration of their sin, it was not in acceptance of their sin, and it was not in tolerance or ignorance of their sin. He loved sinners to call them to repentance. If that's your love for your friends, that's the love of Christ. That love has no ulterior motive of romance, but has the single goal in mind to constantly reveal a righteous way to live. Most will hate you for it, some will be saved. But for those few, it's worth it.

                Be friendly with everyone. But understand that your closest friends--your most intimate persons--are the ones that you choose to draw strength from, share values with, and be sharpened by. If those friends are partners in the gospel, you'll see an undeniable movement toward faith and love. If those friends are just moral people, you'll see a general niceness about your life that you'll know is still not worship nor fulfillment. This is why Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6 that believers are not to be yoked (tied together) with unbelievers. It's a lot easier to pull someone down than to pull someone up. Surround yourself with friends that are all going in the same "up" direction--toward God.

 

How should I talk to my friend who just started to explore Christianity, but then got into a summer fling?

                After identifying your concerns, there's really very little else you can say. People aren't easily convinced to change their lives by hearing someone talk to them (trust me...I preach to the same people every week; it's not easy to convince anyone of anything they don't want to believe).   Tell them what you know is going on. That way they know you aren't oblivious, and they know you have opinions about it. After that, it really is about how you handle the situation. If your friend proceeds with her fling, talking about it with her will only enable her. Whether or not you want to do that depends on how sure you are that it's a bad idea.

                In all cases, pray for your friend to gain wisdom or to be shielded from serious damage. Sometimes a breakup might be the best thing for a believer to be removed from an influence that prevents her from growing close to God.   Never give the impression that you think the relationship is a good idea, unless that actually becomes the case. Until then, being a friend means guiding your friend into holiness, even if it means giving a loving rebuke every now and then. Be gentle and respectful, not punitive or elitist. Hopefully, with time, your influence will be an effective part of her growth.

 

My Christian brothers and sisters talk and act no different from my unbelieving friends.  I want to talk with them about sermons and stuff, but they don't care.  What should I do?

                That could mean they're not really brothers and sisters. Anyone who comes to Christ is proven to do so by the transformed life. Either they're very young in the faith and still in the process of change, or they're just calling themselves Christian when really they're unregenerate.  After sermons, you should definitely find people to talk to about the stuff on your heart. Those are the brothers and sisters you want to rely on and pray with. As for the other ones, those are the ones you want to reach out to and pray for.

 

Is it okay to hang out with friends who party and drink and stuff if you don't get involved yourself?

                Some people can, some people can't. It depends on you as an individual, with your values, your resolve, and your accountability.   Something to consider is also the aspect of testimony. Going with friends to a party is not only about what you're doing there, but about what people THINK you're doing there. It won't always be clear to people that you're not engaging in any particularly unhealthy behavior. As a believer, you have a responsibility to promote the message of Christ, and also protecting it. Going to a party could do great good if you're an agent of evangelism while you're there. But if you just go to blend in (even if not doing anything bad), it's very easy for people to think, "That guy calls himself a Christian but goes to these parties." That makes a statement not only about you, but about Christ. 
                My personal opinion regarding going to parties and things is to follow the model of the biblical characters who demonstrated godliness: Jesus had no problem hanging out with sinners, but he was always clearly acting to bring them to repentance--not just simply tolerating and accepting their sin. When Joseph knew there was temptation he couldn't easily resist, he removed himself from the situation altogether. Paul said that if you're behavior is going to cause someone to stumble (that is, fall into sin or doubt), it actually is a sin on your part.
                Go to a party if you're not tempted by sin, and with the intent and actions to urge the people around you to repentance by the godliness they see in you, gently and lovingly communicated to them with the hope of their salvation.

 

What is the best way to mend my broken friendship?

                That's hard to say, since I don't know the nature of your friendship or what the problem is that's come up, and I don't know the personality and needs and insecurities of either of you two.  But remember that friendship is a two-way street. You can't draw someone into it who isn't already willing to jump in. The best you can do is simply extend a godly example in love and service to everyone around you, and those that are drawn to it and blessed by it will respond in kind if they share those values.

How should I handle an abrupt end to a friendship (of 8 years)?  Do you believe people sometimes grow apart? 

                Some friendships end by simply fading away over time and distance. If that's what's happening, it takes effort and commitment to prevent that and try and stay close--even if it's at less frequency--and both parties have to invest.
                If you're talking about a friendship that ends because of conflict, then reconciliation is the only proper course. Make every effort to forgive and be forgiven, being willing to be the one who sacrifices more. This doesn't mean that after reconciling, everything will be back the way it was before the conflict. But it does mean that the conflict won't continue to be a source of anger and contention. Even if you two don't hang out as much and share as much, it will at least allow that to happen in the future by stopping the infection in the present. After doing everything you can to resolve the conflict (including admitting wrong, apologizing, asking for forgiveness, and being willing to accept consequences), be patient and understanding to give space and time and hopefully your friendship will have been worth restoring.

 

My friend professes Christ but does not bear any fruit. I fear that he knows about Jesus but doesn't have an intimate relationship with him. What should I do?

                Follow the ideas in Matthew 18:15-20, saying that if someone says he's a Christian, do everything you can to lovingly bring him to repentance, and if he refuses your personal, corporate, and official exhortations to turn away from his sin, then treat him as an unbeliever--let him know he is not a follower of Christ.

 

How do we convince an unbelieving friend not to commit suicide? 

                That's really going to depend on the person and his/her reason.  Your best approach, though, is constant company, hearing him out on everything and helping where you can. The simple presence of a friendly ear is incredible medicine to a hurting soul.

 

FORGIVING

What does it mean to forgive someone?  When I try, I can't help but still feel resentment.  Is that wrong?

                Forgiving someone means you no longer wish them harm. You "put away" your desire to have them experience suffering for what you are hurt/offended about.  It's not something that's easy to do, and it certainly can't be done by just mustering up a bunch of emotion or something like that. The best way to do it is by praying through it, recognizing that God is the avenger and His justice is what we seek--not our own. On top of that, we hope that the grace of Christ and the love of God would take over the heart of our enemies so that their sins are still paid for by the death of Christ, and in their place would be the transforming power of the gospel to make our enemies into our friends--into our family. 
                You won't be able to forgive someone fully by just deciding to do so in an instant. It takes time and commitment. The more you do it, the easier it becomes, because you'll begin to notice that life with God in control is so much more full than life with ourselves trying to dictate reality.  Keep praying for people you need to forgive, and seek out God's heart and conform yours to it. That will change what you wish for a person as well as-like Christ has demonstrated--what you're willing to endure to see your prayer through.

 

Should I forgive my friend who gave a very vague apology?

                A super simple mentality to have: forgiveness is not dependent on apologies.  With God, He is the only one who can really forgive sins, and He does forgive people who truly repent (or, in a sense, apologize in their hearts by turning away from sin and embracing a life of righteousness).  With us, we are called to forgive people REGARDLESS of apologies. This is one of the ways we can demonstrate what God's forgiveness really looks like. It doesn't mean we let people walk all over us. We stand for justice and expect proper consequences to follow wrongdoing. But when we forgive, it means we "put it away" as the Greek term originally meant. We no longer hold it personally against the perpetrator--we no longer wish to harm them back vengefully. We are angry about wickedness and abuse; we are hurt by betrayal; and we are right to protect ourselves from being hurt the same way again. But while we hope for justice to be done to the perpetrator, we do so with the hope that this person will change for the better. We don't delight in their sufferings, as if that would validate our own.

                Whether or not your friend was specific or vague in her apology, do your best to discern whether or not she's faking you out, excusing herself, being polite, or actually trying to communicate that she wants to change. Knowing that will help you prepare for how you communicate with her in the future. But in all cases, put the issue away, and hope for her repentance and growth--not vengeance.   Also, speak to your pastor about this, since there are definitely more specific details that might be important to handling the situation. I'd wish to be less general in my response if the question had more detail, but this is really the most I'd venture to say without making unwarranted assumptions.

 

Does forgiving an enemy necessarily mean rekindling the lost friendship?

                Forgiving means "putting it away." You no longer wish harm upon the person for your personal vengeance (though that doesn't mean you don't seek justice for crimes committed). That doesn't obligate you to try to be best friends, but it does remove the desire to want to stay enemies. Especially if the person wronged you, it would take time to grow close again (if at all), but you wouldn't be trying to prevent healing in the relationship.

 

If we truly forgive someone, would we have to do that in person or is it acceptable to forgive in our minds?

                Forgiveness is an internal act. It's letting go of an offense so that you no longer wish retributive harm on the original offender. It doesn't mean you ignore justice, but it does mean you don't seek vengeance or pain upon them for your own satisfaction.
                That kind of forgiveness is definitely private, but it is and should be noticeable and expressed in the way you regard that person with your thoughts and words and actions. You don't necessarily have to sit him down and say, "For your information, I have forgiven you," but it certainly doesn't hurt to let him know. I think God has gone to great lengths to let us know about His forgiveness and to repeatedly assure us of it after we've already received it. In imitation of Him, I think it's good to be unquestionably clear and loving in how you let a person know.
                If you're unable to let him know (maybe because you're in different locations without means of communication), I wouldn't go to extreme lengths to find him, but I wouldn't try to avoid the opportunity. Use the most personal means possible: face-to-face if possible, or a phone call, or an email or a text--those all go from most-to-least personal. 
                By letting someone know they are forgiven, it also gives him a chance to recognize his offense against you. He then can decide whether to apologize or to explain or to rationalize and excuse. He can handle it well or poorly. However he reacts, that is judged by God. You do your part (forgive him, and let him know what he's forgiven for) and he'll be responsible for his part (how he handles it) and God will do His part (reward good and punish evil).

 

Is forgiving yourself possible?  If so, is it important and how do you do it?

                Forgiveness is only properly granted by an offended party.   If you have somehow disappointed yourself by a mistake you've made, then forgiving yourself might be appropriate, but it doesn't in any way substitute for the need to seek forgiveness from whomever you've hurt. Actually, I'd think that forgiving yourself can't even be done if the damage you've caused isn't somehow dealt with. To forgive yourself of something you know is still unreconciled with an offended party is to excuse yourself of sin--which means forgiving yourself would also be a sin, in that case. 

                My guess is that forgiving yourself is more an expression of being at peace about something and no longer feeling guilt or regret over it. It doesn't replace those feelings with pride, but it at least puts their unresolved ache to rest.  The best way to to do it is with what's prescribed by Jesus in Matthew 5:21-26.  Deal with anger with the intent to resolve the issue with justice, not vengeance (the two are often similar but not the same).  Prioritize reconciliation before worship, knowing that a broken relationship that you've caused will render any prayers and praises meaningless if you don't strive to fix things.  Resolve conflict immediately--without stalling or delaying. The resolution might take a long time, with much discussion and consideration, but begin it right away and don't stop working toward a peaceful end. 

                Notice, of course, that you're supposed to mend conflict that YOU started--the conflicts where someone has something against YOU, not you having something against them (v23). We often try only to seek peace with someone that's offended us, and we want them to apologize. Jesus flips it backward and says make sure you didn't offend anyone, and if you did, you should try and initiate the apology.  The thought is to be selfless, not selfish.  Make that the habit of your life, and I have no doubt you'll live more carefully, more lovingly, and certainly at peace.

 

If we can't forgive ourselves and other people around us, can we still ask God for forgiveness?  I feel like I've forgiven everyone I had to forgive, but I always feel ashamed and unworthy for God to listen to what I have to say or tell.

                If ever you feel as though you're ashamed and unworthy to ask God for forgiveness, you're actually in a great place. You have come to understand your fallenness, your sinfulness, and your unworthiness. All of that is summed up in Romans 3:23.
Now the next step is to realize that even in your darkest moments, in the worst part of your life, when you were powerless, that's when God graciously loved you and provided forgiveness anyway (Romans 5:6,8). It was not given BECAUSE of anything you've done, but DESPITE anything you've done. That's why the gospel is good news (Ephesians 2:8-9).
                We should definitely understand our shame and unworthiness before the holy God, and then we should rightly understand His unmatchable mercy and grace. Then, when we get both of those ideas, we understand salvation--its breadth, its magnitude, and its infinite value.