I once (total understatement) got into an argument with a friend of mine. A friend, for a period of time, I would see every.single.day. It’s almost needless to say we got into an argument, right? It was getting a bit dramatic too, crying and all. At one point she said to me, “So-and-so would never make me feel this way!” This statement made me laugh, which I’m sure wasn’t helpful in the moment. My response was (insert chuckle), “Of course she doesn’t! She lives in ‘city-across-the country’! She doesn’t even have the opportunity to hurt you like I do!” This is so real in friendships and family, isn’t it? When you let please close to you they will, at some point hurt you. But they will also bring you lasting memories, great joy and laughter, understand you like no one can and hopefully keep your secrets and prayers private.
But what happens when they don’t? When they betray you, when they leave you hanging, when they say something out of line that stings and hurts and feels like the pain will never go away? I found a great blog post yesterday and discovered it to be helpful to me as I process moments and occurrences in my friendships. How do we live out the scripture, “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowances for each other’s faults because of your love.” Ephesians 4:2, without getting our heart broken? Read through for some advice on forgiving when an apology never comes.
Forgiveness is a tricky thing. Problematic and complex because we, by nature, are so demanding. Self-centered.
I probably shouldn’t speak for you, but I can speak for myself. And I’ve been in many situations that required forgiveness.
Asking for it. Giving it when it wasn’t asked for. Times where it seemed that an apology wasn’t even considered. Times when forgiveness wasn’t about the other person at all, but to set myself free.
Relationships are hard. Be it parent/child, sibling, spouse, friend, co-worker, acquaintance we are bound to have conflict. We are going to have misunderstanding, offense, strain, and, sometimes division.
I believe we’ve got three choices when relationships get sticky. In, out, or wait.
You dive in and do the work. You gather and speak truth in love. Harvest the soil in the attempt to nurture tiny seedlings into new life.
You walk away. Sever communication, cut ties, pack up your bags and go home.
For something…someone…some word or act, apology or occurrence. A period of time to pass. Something for which you feel you cannot proceed without.
In, out, or wait. Where do you find yourself?
I ask because I know you’re in the midst of something and you find yourself in one of these places. Or you’re uninvolved but trying to help from the periphery. So you’re involved. You’re kind of in. Watching. Waiting. One foot precariously close to the line. Praying for both parties to be all in. But one is in…and one is out…and it’s delicate. And yet so fierce.
As I stand on the sideline I wonder how can you “not care” and yet be so vicious? Hurt so deep it’s difficult to touch. History. Pain. Tender wounds. Fragile, violent, angry, seething, malicious words cut like a knife.
Moving on, getting out, waiting, supposedly indifferent and yet bitter to the core. Silently poisoned.
More often than not, we just throw rocks at each other until nothing remains but a banged up, dented in, gnarled vestige of a relationship. An artifact. Something that was once of great value.
Destroyed by our own hands.
As you consider your place in the struggle of relationship and forgiveness: in, out, or wait; I have a few suggestions for the road:
1. Don’t say or write anything you will regret.
If you’re not ready to work on the relationship then say so. Ask for time. Have the courage and integrity to ask for what you need so you don’t do further damage. You are not the only one with feelings.