Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fear, Friendship and Forgiveness Part Deux

Well, everyone is now well again at our house. And even better than that, it's 42 degrees today. I'm definitely going to open some of the windows for a little while, even if I keep the heat turned on while I do it!


I did want to get back to my last post before I forgot what I wanted to say. Don't you hate that? Or, maybe it's only me...Anyway, in addition to the chapter on fear, Joanna Weaver also had a chapter on forgiveness. Apparently, this is becoming a recurring theme for me. Do you think that maybe God is trying to tell me something? *wink, wink*. Well, I know that I have been, and am, struggling with the issue of forgiveness recently. (OK, and not so recently, too.)
Without going into too many of the gory details, here is my dilemma. One of my closest friends hurt me deeply a couple of years ago. (I wanted to tell you why, but God just reminded me that it really doesn't matter, and that I only wanted to tell you why to get you on my side. Ouch! But, oh so true.) I was so hurt initially that I cut off contact with her. Over the course of the next few months, I convinced myself that my actions were not only justified, but also that I had done nothing wrong. And, you can be certain, I did not want to change my behavior. During that time period, my friend got married. I went to the bridal shower and the wedding, but only because I wanted to play the martyr. She tried to apologize during the reception, but I told her we could talk about it later. So, several months later, I called my friend and we got together for an hour or so. The conversation was light. We didn't discuss much, and we certainly didn't discuss "it." It certainly wasn't like old times, but I thought I had resolved the issue in my mind. We haven't spoken since.
I did get a Christmas card from her, along with a letter to all her friends and family. I found out from the letter that my friend was pregnant. I have to admit, the first thing I thought was, "I can't believe she didn't call me." And, then I got angry at myself. I thought I was over this. I thought I had put all of this in the past. So, I pushed it all down again. Down in the crevices of my mind where I thought it was buried for good. Well, not quite. You see, a few weeks ago I got an invitation to her baby shower. And all those feelings and emotions I had pushed down rose to the surface again.
At this point, I do think I should let you know that if I had, in fact, written this post on Friday, the events described above would have been portrayed very differently. See, they may look one sided to you (and to me, believe me), but they would have been even more one sided then. Just call me Heather of Arc. Martyr extraordinaire. I had read the chapter on forgiveness in Having a Mary Spirit, but I had only internalized what I wanted to. For example, Joanna Weaver writes about how forgiving doesn't excuse the other person's behavior, but it does make you OK. The problem was, I thought I was OK. I mean, hello, I thought to myself, "I have it all together." Oh, such foolishness.
It wasn't until I was talking with Melissa on Saturday that things slowly began to click in my mind. Melissa made a simple statement. She said, "Maybe, your friend doesn't know there is anything wrong." At the time, I was quick to retort, "Of course she knows something is wrong." But later, I started thinking about what wise friends I have. Maybe she doesn't know anything is wrong? I mean, I think she knows our relationship has definitely changed. After all, we no longer have sleepovers, and she no longer braids my hair for me. And, I think that she knows how hurt I was, but maybe she thinks I've let it go, or gotten over it. But she probably doesn't know, as Joanna Weaver said in her book (and Beth Moore talks about in her DVD series Measureless Love--which if you haven't seen it, you should. It is fantastic), that I have locked her in a prison in my heart. And as I thought about all this, I realized that that was, in fact, exactly what I had done. And, I was the prison warden, chained to the chair, right outside the prison cell; incapable of moving away. And suddenly I understood what Joanna Weaver meant when she wrote that forgiveness makes you OK. My friend has been living her life, not knowing that I have her chained up in my heart, while I have carried around this bitterness for over two years. Well, sisters (and George), it is time to let it go. I'm unsure where exactly to go from here. I don't know what the first step is in this mess. Joanna Weaver told a story in her book about a feud she had with her friend. She wrote that God told her that whenever she thought drove by her friend's home, she was supposed to say a blessing for her. Blessing. Now that's a thought. Maybe I'll start there. And if you have any suggestions or insight, I'd love to hear them. Like I said, I know I have wise friends!

4 comments:

melissa said...

Here's my example of being on the other side of the story. In h.s. I had a best friend, Amy. We did everything together and planned to go to college and room there together. I started dating Jeff and fell head over heels, my life revolves around you, in love (in 1 month!)Amy totally fell by the wayside. I could give many excuses for my behavior but that would be excusing what I did)She fell off the face of my planet and I didn't even realize what I was doing! (years later she would say, "remember when I was so deathly ill with mono and out of school that yr?" uh...no. I didn't even know she had been sick! I didn't even miss her! I was too caught up in my own world.) To her credit she didn't treat me like she could have. She was distant but I didn't even care at the time. Years later we reconnected, I don't even remember how and I asked her what happened to our friendship. Well, being the Godly woman she had become she told me, very gently and in a loving way just what I had done. I was disgusted, ashamed, bereaved wouldn't be too strong of a word for how I felt! I was so sorry! If someone had told me that someone had done this to them I would have been so mad and sorry for them. Kind of like David when Nathan confronts him about Bathsheba! Anyway, I asked for forgiveness, she forgave me and we resumed our long lost friendship. I'm continually thankful for her forgiveness and graciousness. She is the mom of 6 and homeschools. She is such a wonderful friend and mentor to me. She demonstrated Christ to me before I really had a deep relationship with Him. She was Christ with clothes on!
Heather-forgive your friend and shower her with love. I've rambled a lot but God graced me with another example in my life. Jeff's dad had a phone affair with an old girlfriend and after 3 years of unrepenting betrayal (is that too harsh?) they divorced. Jeff's mom is the sweetest most wonderful person! I was so outraged for her and the rest of the family. I refused to forgive him or see him. Some time passed and I knew, as a Christian, I should forgive him. I just couldn't do it! Well when all this business started with Jeff he said he didn't know if he could forgive me...ouch!! What!? How can that be Lord? Oh, wait a minute. You mean I shouldn't expect forgiveness if I'm not willing to give it? (Isn't that in the Bible somewhere? ha!) I guess God knows I need actual object lessons to get something to sink in to this thick skull. Thank goodness He's willing to give them to me. I always thank Him for loving me enough to not leave me where I'm at. Amen!

melissa said...

I forgot to say I forgave Jeff's dad right that very instant!! I still don't love what he did but loving Jeff's dad despite what he did show's my love and respect for Jeff. Only Christ could do this!

Kelly said...

I put lemon pepper seasoning in the bag on top of the veggies before I steamed them. They tasted great!
I think you could go either way with them.

Josh & Sarah said...

Heather,

I loved your post. (stalked over from Julie's page, in case you're wondering how I found you :) )

Loved it because of how open you were and also because I've been in your shoes. Dang. Those kind of hurts hurt big and deep and are so hard... While I forgave my friend long before she apologized and asked for forgiveness, it took a long time to be fully healed from the hurt she caused me. Our relationship has never been the same. That hurts, too, but God knew that my life would be better with her at a distance. Kind of strange to be saying about somebody who was your best, talk often everyday kind of friend. I'm so thankful for a God who convicts, comforts, and controls everything...

Thanks for sharing so openly!
Sarah