We can all be too prideful at times. We think our way is the right way and we don’t give enough time or perspective into another person’s way of doing things.
I had lots of great conversations with my parents while I was visiting them last year in February 2020. Around the kitchen table, we got talking about my old university days in Seattle. I recalled the fourteen-hour drive from California to Washington state, which we crazily did in one day and then moved me into my dormitory. Saying goodbye as my parents drove off was such an emotional moment. And then we started talking about my friend Joanna. We became instant friends and were often seen together on campus.
Our second year, we became roommates. Now some friends can be roommates and other cannot. We made it to Easter break and then things went pear-shaped. Her mother was a high school French teacher and we were invited to go along as chaperones on their class trip to France and Italy. Looking back, there was already tension within our friendship, but we were committed to this trip and so we both still went, along with one of her brothers and our friend Chris.
Arriving back from our European trip, Joanna informed me that she was moving out. Abruptly and without further explanation, she left just like that. Looking back, I know that I was prideful so I didn’t pursue talking about it with her further, but the truth was that I had just been caught off guard and left feeling hurt myself. Just like that, our friendship broke and to this day, we’ve never spoken or made effort to be reconciled.
My mom, who is one of the best peacemakers ever, gently nudged, “Why don’t you get in touch with Joanna and see what she is up to these days?” I jokingly brushed it off and said that the only way I would make contact was if the Holy Spirit told me to. I finished the trip and headed back home to England.
Well sure enough, the Holy Spirit took me up on my words and he prompted me to ask forgiveness! It’d been fourteen years since I graduated from university, and I didn’t even know where to start, but the Holy Spirit gave me the right words and a letter was drafted. I couldn’t actually find Joanna on Facebook but happened to find the brother that had been on the trip with us. I sent my letter in faith that whatever God wanted to do with it was up to Him only.
Three weeks later, I heard back from her brother saying he’d kindly forwarded my message to Joanna. I think relief and nervous energy both started to swell in me. But then I remembered what all of this was about: forgiveness. God forgave us and loved us even while we were still sinners, so how could I keep ignoring my own need to seek forgiveness?
The truth of friendship is that it is complex. We are broken human beings with different styles of communication and our various backgrounds influence how we react in certain situations. I was hurt myself, but clearly Joanna felt hurt too.
It’s not so much a matter of getting a response from her that I care about. More than anything, I rest in the assurance that I have done what God has required of me. To apologise and seek forgiveness without expecting a reply. I’ve let it go into the Father’s loving arms and I am grateful for the Holy Spirit’s prompting. It may have taken me fourteen years to eat enough humble pie, to let go of my pride and admit that I needed to seek forgiveness, but better late than never!
So no matter what responses we get when we seek forgiveness, let’s be Christ followers and do as He would do. Without expectation, let’s humbly lay down our pride and do our best to live at peace with all people. Let us take every opportunity to do what is right and seek Jesus in directing us.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8