Today I had lunch with an old friend. We had been very close for more than five years before she moved away. I looked to her not only as a friend, but a mentor and counselor. She taught me so much about God, ministry, and myself. I cried the day she left.
She told me when she moved away that she wasn't the type to keep in touch. She didn't do email and she definitely didn't do snail mail. It was pretty much the end of our friendship. I had to accept that and be content with having her friendship for that phase of my life.
She would come back to visit occasionally and it was always good to see her but it was a hug and no more than a few minutes of conversation. The last time she was in town was during a time when I wasn't in a good place. It was when we were making the decision to leave our church. She was going to be in town for a couple of weeks and I told her I would really like to get together with her. I needed my wise friend and counselor. I told her my time was flexible and she said she would be in touch so we could grab at least a coffee.
For the next two weeks I waited for her call.... and waited... and waited. She never called. I was so hurt. My mind went wild with reasons why she didn't call - why she wouldn't want to meet with me. I was sure it had something to do with why we were leaving the church, but the truth is, I really don't know why.
That was two years ago. I hadn't heard a word from her since that time. It was very easy for me to stay hurt and mad. Satan not only uses our weaknesses against us, but our pain. It would have been very easy for me to stay mad and nurse that wound so that it would never heal. I felt justified in that thinking.
But somewhere along the way, I realized that that kind of thinking and wound nursing was not helping me - in fact, it was hurting me. I knew I needed to forgive this friend, even though she had no idea that she had hurt me. I needed to do this for me, not her. So, this was indeed what I did, with God's help.
About three months ago I heard some news that both excited and scared me. My friend was moving back, taking a job with our old church. I realized I was most likely going to come face to face with her at some point. I also realized that forgiveness was so much easier when I didn't have to face the one that hurt me. I didn't know what I was going to do. I did the only thing I knew to do; pray and put it all in God's hands.
And God is faithful. My friend and I ran into each other in the most unexpected place a couple of weeks ago. Thankfully, the place didn't afford us the opportunity to really talk. My friend said she wanted to meet for lunch so we set up a time and place. This gave me the time I needed to pray and prepare myself for this meeting. I wasn't sure what to expect. Even though I had forgiven her, I wasn't sure how I would respond to being with her. I wasn't sure how she was going to respond to me. I'll be honest - I was scared.
Today was the day. We met for lunch. And it went well, very well. It was almost like no time had passed from the old times. There was no hurt on my side or uncertainty on her's. I thank God for that and the opportunity to renew our friendship. There might be some future unease since she's working for the church that we loved and left, but thankfully, God can work that out. With God, anything is possible. He's made that clear to me through this situation.