I’ve always prided myself on being a good friend. I never forget to send birthday cards; I’m always available to lend a hand when you need help with your kids or home; if you need an ear, I’ll always listen.
I try so hard to be the kind of friend I’d like to have.
But I let my friend Kate down in a big way. Even now, I’m ashamed to think about what I did. Or rather, didn’t do.
A couple of years ago, Kate went through a bitter divorce when her husband left her for someone else – another man. I have to admit: I didn’t know how to comfort her. I didn’t know what to say. My own marital insecurities and personal prejudices lay too close to the surface, and I began avoiding her. I’d let her phone calls go to voicemail, and I was slow to respond to emails and texts.
Eventually, she stopped reaching out for me. She found comfort in other friends – friends, I might add, whom she hadn’t known nearly as long as she’d known me.
Meanwhile, I went on with my happy little life.
It wasn’t until months later when I ran into Kate at the grocery store that I realized the depths of my betrayal. She wouldn’t speak to me; wouldn’t even look at me. It was like we were complete strangers, the way she ignored me as she made her way to the checkout line.
Then I realized: that’s how I’d treated her. Like a stranger. Like someone I didn’t even know, rather than the loving friend she’d been for years. I felt ashamed and embarrassed because I knew I was wrong.
It took a few days to finally get up the nerve, but I sent Kate an email. It was a heartfelt apology, explaining that while there was no excuse for my behavior, I was so sorry and so remorseful, and I hoped she’d forgive me.
“If you’re not willing to,” I wrote, “I certainly understand. I wasn’t there when you needed me, and I don’t deserve your forgiveness or your friendship.”
While I was sure she’d never forgive me, I just wanted her to know that I was so sorry for failing her in her time of need.
Imagine my surprise when, a few days later, she showed up on my doorstep with fresh tomatoes from her garden and a smile on her face. “Chrissy,” she told me before I could say a word, “Of course I forgive you. I love you, no matter what. My friendship with you isn’t conditional.”
Wow! To say I was blown away by her sweet, forgiving spirit would be an understatement. I’d asked her forgiveness, fully expecting that she was angry with me and would withhold it, and what happened? She forgave me.
Sometimes, we just have to ask.
I know it can be difficult to admit we’re wrong and ask forgiveness when we know we’ve hurt someone. But when we put away our pride and say the words, “will you please forgive me,” we give someone else the chance to show grace. We give them the opportunity to be Christ-like and welcome us back into their arms.
The same is true of our precious Heavenly Father. And He makes it so simple: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, NIV)
Is there anyone from whom YOU need to ask forgiveness today? What are you waiting for?
by Chrissy at Life’s Not Always Fireflies and Hummingbirds