I took a bite, paused, and then said it out loud. One of my dearest friends left me behind and our present relationship hangs on by social media threads. She is one of my deepest hurts.
After years of close friendship, we are no longer in touch. For a time, we were inseparable, but then she began to distance herself from me. There never seemed to be a reason. It hurt me then and it hurts me now.
From time to time, I think about it and make guesses. I wonder if she simply tired of me. Was I uninteresting? I must have tagged along too much. Did I hurt her somehow? And then I fear the worst – that she saw my mistakes and my insecurities, and felt my faith and life weren’t authentic. I always admired her, which makes that last guess the most painful. Did she see any good in me?
I have kept those thoughts to myself for many years. I shared with a girlfriend over dinner how deeply it hurt me to be left behind by my old friend. I didn’t list for her all the guesses and fears – some of those are still too hard to say. But this pain, methodically turned over and over in my heart, has led to bitterness in my life.
Oddly, I’m not bitter toward my old friend. Instead, when I fear rejection is coming in my other friendships, my heart begins to harden and I am tempted to flee the relationship. I have caught myself quietly maintaining a rough count of offenses – being left out of a gathering, feeling snubbed in a conversation, being the last to hear important news (or never hearing at all) – and replay each as a warning sign that the end of our friendship is near. I especially like to review the list when I have a new offense to add. Healthy, I know.
But that dinnertime conversation – those words finally spoken aloud – helped open my eyes to an obvious truth that I need to speak to myself when my heart hurts once again.
People make mistakes. Girlfriends make mistakes. Often times, those mistakes are nothing more than forgetfulness or an oversight.
I may never know why that old friendship evaporated, but I do know that the friendships I have now are too precious to subject to my bitterness. If God forgives all the little (and big) mistakes I make, why is it so very hard to do the same for others?
That running list of offenses needs to become a list of mistakes I have easily forgiven because I love these friends God has given to me. They are imperfect, just as I am imperfect, but they are a heaven-sent blessing in my life.