Over the least month I have had plenty of time to think about friendship, loyalty, and the art of becoming real.
Is the friendship of previous posts reconciled? No.
Will it be? I don't know. I hope so. But I have to be reconciled to the possibility that it may not be.
“I'm not perfect. Remember that, and try to forgive me when I fail you.”
― Elizabeth Lowell, Sweet Wind, Wild Wind
I've done more soul searching and shed more tears over this relationship than any I can ever remember. And I've come to a conclusion.
No matter what I may have done to unintentionally create the divide, the way I have been treated (or not-treated) the last four weeks is unacceptable in any friendship. Friends don't ignore each other. Communication in this digital age is ridiculously easy, and no one should be so busy that a one word text is utterly impossible. Life happens, I get that, but a real friend does not turn suddenly cold and stay that way without some inciting incident.
I've learned a lot. The details don't matter except they affect how I will respond going forward.
It's interesting how God brings words to me when I stop trying to solve my own problems and instead look to Him. I recently subscribed to a blog called "Blessed is She". Several of the devotions spoke to me, but two really stood out. Writer Anna Coyne wrote, "How often do we think we've got it pretty well figured out, only to have the rug completely pulled out from under us? How often has the Christian life seemed easy and pleasant, and then disaster strikes....All of a sudden we don't know which way is up or down, or how we are going to make it through." My journey of the last month was certainly unpleasant and unexpected, although not really a disaster in the grand scheme of things. Still her words encouraged me: "My dear sisters, don't grow discouraged when the Christian life feels like a whirlwind, or an uphill struggle, or when we realized we are so far from having things figured out. It is during those times of struggle and uncertainty that Jesus is stretching us, growing us, perfecting us, and teaching us."
In another devotion, Laurel Muff asked, " How am I proving more as an obstacle than an instrument in conveying Christ's grace to others? Where am I trying too hard, relying on my own strength, and not enough on Him?" Ouch. It's not my words, my arguments, or my idea of justice that matters. It is the grace of the Father that mends hearts and heals the broken. I must focus on that grace, not on my feelings.
Mark 11:25 says, "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." There is nothing there about waiting for an apology. In fact, very often apologies don't happen. I can't expect an apology, but I can forgive anyway. In fact, I must forgive. Corrie ten Boom certainly had reason to harden her heart against her captors, but she chose forgiveness, saying, "Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart" (The Hiding Place). Nothing I have experienced remotely compares to her experience, and her words ring true.
“Forgiveness is not a one off decision; it is a journey and a process that takes time, determination, and persistence. Forgiveness is not forgetting; it is simply denying your pain the right to control your life.”
― Corallie Buchanan, Watch Out! Godly Women on the Loose
I choose forgiveness. I have to choose it every time my mind tries to justify resentment or dredges up the hurt. I will strive to live according to Ephesians 4:1-3 "...I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." If I focus on that, there will be no room for an unforgiving spirit no matter what the circumstance.
“Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair
I've re-read comments sent to me over time through various media , and one character trait seems to stand out to people: I am real. I share the good and bad. If anyone asks my opinion, I offer it (usually with tact, but I'm human). I know my weaknesses, and I don't pretend to be something more than I'm not. I am straightforward, honest, and well aware of my flaws. I also recognize that I have strengths. In this particular relationship, I let that real self disappear a little. I wanted to be liked, appreciated, and wanted. I need to regain myself. I need to become real again. (Although, I admit, it would be nice to be liked, appreciated, and wanted!)
Choosing to forgive does not mean becoming a doormat. I must stand for accuracy and transparency, even if I am the only one willing to do so. I will not allow my hurt to be rekindled. I will guard my heart. And I will become real again.
I will also be the kind of friend I so want to have. If this relationship can be redeemed, I want to redeem it. I will not hold a grudge. I will not expect an apology. I will not initiate a conversation about this particular conflict. But I will be there if needed. I will respond if called. I will embrace the opportunity to rebuild, restore, and reconcile.
And I will look to the Father for understanding, peace, and grace. No matter what.