sunflower photo by bonguri {flickr} 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

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  1. 1

    I think this is a beautiful piece of writing and a lovely picture of grace and forgiveness. Thank you for sharing it with us. It touched my heart.

  2. 3

    Wow. What a great reminder to “be there” for our friends. Thanks.

  3. 5

    Thanks for this, Chrissy. It hit me a little differently than you may have intended, but God is in it.

    I was in your friend’s shoes, in a way. Not divorce. But my husband’s cancer diagnosis was paralyzing for people, leaving them – all but a few – suddenly feeling awkward and unable to have a normal conversation with me. And MY efforts to stay connected, to take the initiative, seemed to put people in an even more anxious position. Even my showing up did! I totally understood how hard it was for people, not being able to rescue us, not feeling they can DO anything.

    Fast forward two years. Things are stable medically, the consequences of all that linger. I love that you were moved to take a bold and risky step and took it. Reconciliation is God’s work, for sure! LOVED this piece. Keep writing!

    • 6

      Marilyn, I so enjoy reading all your posts. You are such an an encourager…Thank you. I sure hope you do have some friends to be the same for you.

    • 7

      I’m glad this post spoke to you, Marilyn, and I’m sorry you had to experience something like this. I’m so happy to hear your husband is stable now. My prayers go out to your family that he will continue to improve and God will work in your lives!

  4. 8

    What an incredible reminder for us to remember to ask…sometimes we just plain ole forget. Thank you for sharing your heart honestly on this, it is a blessing!

  5. 10

    Just this morning when I was out for a walk, I was thinking I needed to write about forgiveness. I was thinking about it from the other side, the times I struggle to extend forgiveness when I want to hold on tightly to a nasty grudge. I think learning to ask for forgiveness is one of the most humbling and healing tools God has used in this process in my life. It’s truly amazing what happens when, as a parent, I’ve had to ask forgiveness of my children for leaning to much on my own understanding, and not seeking God’s wisdom through the years in raising them. The beauty in the humbling is not only in receiving forgiveness, but in knowing that God has given me the opportunity to live the gospel in front of my children. Thank you for this today.

    • 11

      You bring up an interesting topic, Nancy: asking our children’s forgiveness. I’m sure there are many of us who need to do that more often than we realize. But you’re right – what an opportunity it gives us to witness to our children. Thanks for reading!

  6. 12

    Thanks for sharing your story with us. It really resonated with me and a post I wrote a little while back this year. I was in a similar situation as you, though I chose to leave my friend behind because I thought she was making terrible decisions and not taking my advice. She was experiencing a break in her long-time relationship with her boyfriend and the decisions she was making hit too close to home for me, as I experienced a similar situation as her, except I was in her boyfriend’s place.

    I decided to push her away and she was one of my best friends in college. We drifted apart and 3 years later, I reached out to her. She forgave me. Though, now we are 1000s of miles apart, living in different states, resolving that broken relationship mended a piece of my heart.

    It’s easy to justify our actions when we feel we have every right to, but it’s so much harder to love each other unconditionally. I choose to be the latter because that’s how Christ wants us to live!

    • 13

      You are right, Marisa. It’s how Christ wants us to live, although so often it’s easier said than done. I’m glad you and your friend are repairing your relationship! I’m glad you asked her forgiveness! Thanks for reading, and for your wonderful comment!

  7. 14

    Like many, I have disappointed friends, and been disappointed. How lovely that your friend was able to forgive and reestablish your friendship. That says a lot about her, but also about you and the sincerity of your apology.

    I used to have a hard time saying “I’m sorry,” but as I’ve gotten older I’m much more willing to admit my mistakes. And unfortunately, I have so many opportunities to practice! Just this morning, I said something to my daughter I immediately regretted. I went right back to her and apologized and asked to start the day again.

    Thank you for sharing this inspiring story. I’m going to spend some time right now searching my memory for apologies I have left unspoken. It’s never too late to say you’re sorry.

    • 15

      How right you are – it’s NEVER too late to say you’re sorry. There have been times I thought it was, but so often, those we’ve hurt are just waiting for the opportunity to forgive us, if only we ask. Thanks for reading today! I appreciate it!

  8. 16

    Chrissy,
    I too have had this very thing happen after my best friend’s father died. I tried a few times to reach her and then when she didn’t return my calls, I gave up and walked away from the friendship. I should have been more persistent in reaching her to express my condolences, but I didn’t. A few years, yes years, later, I found a letter in my mailbox from her forgiving me before I even asked for forgiveness. Such a gracious outreach from her to me, who didn’t deserve it. I think it’s difficult for us at times to realize that we all must ask for forgiveness. We must face what sometimes is difficult and take responsibilities for our actions, as ugly as they may be. Thanks you for sharing this. It’s comforting to know that we all make mistakes and need the grace of God to remind us that we are worthy.

    • 17

      Thanks for reading, Stephani! I’m glad your friend reached out to you with forgiveness. You were obviously weighing heavily on her mind, even though you didn’t believe you deserved to be forgiven. I’m so glad God’s grace is everywhere, even when we don’t expect it!

  9. 18

    I can relate from your friends’ standpoint – I was deserted by quite a few of my friends when, halfway through my freshman year of college, I got pregnant and married (yes in that order) at 18 years old. I began avoiding people at the grocery store as well – because they avoided me. But I have to say that when friends have come back into my life with an apology, telling me “I just didn’t know how to relate…” I’ve just been thrilled to see them again – no hard feelings. I think we can all understand how it feels to just not know what to say in those hard situations.

    • 19

      I’m sorry your friends didn’t support you when you needed them, Lydia, but on the other hand, I’m glad you’re accepting their apologies and mending the friendships. I think sometimes, we just really have no clue what to say and we think that saying nothing is better. It’s not, of course, but the beautiful part is when we come full circle and find grace and forgiveness. Thanks for the comment, Lydia! I appreciate it!

  10. 20

    Aw Chrissy .

    Your friend certainly has a beautiful heart…but obviously, so do you.

    I *do* need to forgive someone(s), someone who is not sorry, someone who is out of reach…so the forgiveness is a choice. And I keep saying it out loud – to God, my husband, other friends. “I forgive them, because I believe it’s a choice… and I think if I keep saying it, my heart will find peace with it one of these days!

    Thank you for sharing…this was so relevant to me today.

    • 21

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Kelli! I have a similar situation in my life: someone I should forgive, even though she doesn’t care if I do or not. But I do believe that if you and I both forgive, it’s not only the RIGHT thing to do in God’s eyes, but as you said, we’ll find peace.

  11. 22

    forgiveness is a good spirit for humans, i hope i can do it well

  12. 24

    till now, i’m trying to forgive someone,but now i really forgive him

  13. 26

    Chrissy!

    I am so very glad you got your friend back and I doubt that this ever happens again. You learned a LOT! And that is what it is all about :-)

    I love you honey!
    Grandma Patty Ann
    I have another blog!
    http://pocketfullofpennies.com/blog

  14. 28

    What an inspiring message of love and forgiveness :) I am happy for the both of you, as I’m sure the experience will just make your relationship even stronger!

  15. 29

    I am the first time on this site and am really enthusiastic about and so many good articles. I think it’s just very good.

  16. 30
    tiffany says:

    I would love to chat with you through email…I have a few questions I cant really post here concerning this post…thinking maybe you can help. I will explain in a private msg.

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