It had been a good weekend. Saturday especially. Took the kids to the park. Pulled some weeds in the yard. Enjoyed a girls night out. Ate good food. Watched a chick flick. Sunday was a good day too. Church was good. Kids were happy. Husband was happy. Lunch out. Time at home. Nap.
I sat down to clip coupons and was content that the day that had such potential to be hectic turned out so nicely. Until I lifted up the coupons from my desk. And there, at the bottom of a small pile of papers, was an invitation. To a wedding. Of my friend. For yesterday.
As I held it in my hand, I could feel the blood rush out of my face, that creamy card stock mocking me with its swirly silver writing, yesterday’s date glaring loud. My first instinct was to think of someone else to blame. Anyone but my own lack of organization for failing to transfer the wedding date from the card to my calendar. Surely they should have called the guests to remind us to come? Why didn’t they call the guests to remind us to come?! What kind of wedding was this?!
But it was in vain. All I could think of was that Saturday while I was stuffing my stupid face with chicken florentine pizza, my friend was living the most important day of her life. And I missed it. Because I forgot.
I was embarrassed, regretful, and sad because I knew I should have been there and because I wanted to be there – to meet her husband, to take pictures for fun, to be a good friend. I made a mistake that I couldn’t take back. I felt like a failure, because I did. And as I waited for the color to return to my face, as I drove immediately to buy her a wedding gift and craft a sincere apology, something else began to happen in me.
I wanted to hide. I wanted to give up on relationship. I wanted to throw my hands up in surrender, I give up. I’m only ever going to disappoint people, so I may as well not even have friends. I don’t deserve them anyway.
Just like that couple in the Garden who messed up first, I want to dive behind the nearest bush and never, ever come out. Because failure does more than highlight our guilt. Failure pulls out our shame. And shame chases us into hiding.
A week or so after the wedding I forgot to go to, I saw the bride at church from far away. I knew I needed to speak to her, to give her her gift, to beg her forgiveness, to offer to do her laundry for a year. I have never wanted the superpower of invisibility more than I wanted it in that moment.
But as I began to speak, she began to smile. She was gracious. Loving. Forgiving. Kind. She placed her hand lightly on my arm and laughed. And I was free.
She was in a position to heap more shame on my head. She chose to pour out grace instead. Friends, we have great authority within us. We can free people with our words alone.
I do thankful backflips for the women in my life who can look me in my eyes, ask what’s wrong and know I’m lying when I say nothing. I am humbled into a puddle for the friends who are still friends even though I’ve disappointed, not called back, forgotten to go to their wedding. I want to be okay with my humanness in front of them, to admit when I’m wrong and receive their forgiveness without thinking I have to earn it. Let me be touchable and approachable, not stand-off-ish and safe. Let me risk failing again because you are worth it.
Your friends in real life have the power to heal, to forgive, to give life. And you have that power too. Use it.