As I was reading Rebecca’s post from last week about keeping no record of wrongs, I immediately thought of an incident in my life that precisely illustrates Rebecca’s point. I felt compelled to write about the situation because keeping no record of wrongs is such an important principle to adopt (as are all God’s principles), if we want to show others unconditional love.
A few years ago, someone told me about a nasty remark that a friend had made about me behind my back. The remark was about a difficulty going on in my life, which the friend knew little about. The friend’s comment made me feel judged and quite hurt. My situation had been a hot button topic for me, so I didn’t respond well when I heard the remark. I got pretty angry at my friend.
After hearing the comment, I stopped speaking to the friend who had said it. I offered no explanation for my behavior, just distanced myself from the relationship. I began to keep a record of my friend’s wrongs and stopped showing her U Love. Every time I encountered the friend, I felt the high octane ping (which Rebecca describes in her previous post), even though I did my best to ignore the friend altogether.
I know I did not handle the problem in a very constructive manner, but it was all I could manage at the time. Eventually, the friend moved away, and it seemed there would never be healing between us. (I just want to point out how lack of U Love on both our parts hurt the friendship.)
But, if God is in the picture, never say never. For the next year, God worked on my heart to soften my feelings about the problem. He regularly brought the circumstances to my mind as He spoke to me about forgiveness, overlooking the offense, and keeping no record of wrongs. Finally, I reached the point where I felt I could forgive my friend. This was all well and good, but the friend no longer lived in my area. It appeared that I wouldn’t have a chance to seek resolution.
I reasoned that verbally forgiving my friend wasn’t all that important anyway, because I didn’t know how the break between us could actually be repaired. A great deal of hurt had gone on between us. And, our paths never crossed anymore with my friend living in a different part of the country. So much time had passed since the initial conflict, that it seemed unlikely this would ever get resolved. I figured it was good enough to God that I just forgave the friend in my heart. But, in this case, that was not so.
Sometime later, I was attending a speaking engagement where, lo and behold, I noticed the old friend was also in attendance. Sometimes I have to chuckle at how God works out all these details to accomplish His purposes. In this case, He brought my friend back to my city and to the same event I was attending, just so we could reconcile. Exactly how this would work out, was yet to be seen.
So, here I was at this event, with the old friend there, too. I remember I felt a bit apprehensive because I realized this was my opportunity to reconcile. I wasn’t sure what my next move should be, or even if I was up to the challenge. I thought about it for the whole two hours the event was going on. As the speaker came to a close, I decided to avoid the situation and go to the bathroom instead. While in that refuge of avoidance (the bathroom), I secretly hoped the whole mess would just fade away.
But fading away is not always God’s style. Sometimes, He faces problems head on. In this case, He expected me to do just that. After all, He had gone to a lot of effort to bring my friend and me together. So, as I walked out of the bathroom door, who came walking directly in my path? You guessed it. I was face to face with my old friend. (I guess she was seeking refuge in the bathroom, too!) I knew it was now or never. I had to make my move or I would never feel peace about the problem.
I looked my friend in the eye and finally said what should have been said a year earlier. I revealed my feelings, explaining that I had felt hurt by the comments she had made about me. She said that she didn’t even remember saying those things. Imagine that. The remarks that had been so hurtful to me for over a year were miniscule to her. She didn’t recall ever saying them.
I had been anguishing about this for so long, and my friend had no idea of the issue that was going on between us. All she knew was that I wouldn’t speak to her anymore. I knew at that moment that it would have been much wiser for me to have talked all this out with my friend much sooner. Perhaps the year prior would have gone differently if I had.
The up shoot is that the friend apologized profusely for hurting my feelings, an apology which I readily accepted because God had already prepared me for this moment. The friend said she had wanted to speak to me before she moved away, but felt unable to do so because I seemed so unapproachable (which I was, due to my offense and anger).
There was a great deal of apologizing on both our parts, along with many hugs and a few tears. It all ended quite well! Our friendship has resumed with us actually on better terms than ever.
I learned a great deal from this situation. It would have been much better if I had overlooked the offense in the beginning, or kept no record of wrongs. Had I forgiven my friend much sooner than I did, it would have avoided a year of angst for us both. I hope my sharing this with you will help you with these kinds of challenges in your life, too.
Have a U Love week!
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