When I first went off to college, I knew a total of two people at The University of Alabama. Making friends seemed like the most daunting task and a part of me knew that the only way I would make friends was if the Lord directly put them in my path. I joined a church, got involved in their college ministry, and became a part of a Bible study. It was a small group, me and another freshman, and our two upperclassmen leaders. We were the smallest of all groups, a trend that would continue all of my years, even as I became a leader. But, those three girls came into my life at the most perfect and proper time. I would build a lot of memories with those girls, but especially with one of them in particular.
She wasn't just my Bible study leader, but in a way my mentor and my confidant. She introduced me to The Office, fed my Mexican food addiction, sat with me in the corner of Barnes and Noble, and became a kid again whenever we found a playground. There were countless talks in parking lots, lots of cheering at football games, and numerous sleepovers. Where she was, I usually wasn't far behind. Where I was, she usually wasn't far behind. She was my best friend.
I know that time changes, things change, and people change, but friendships can and do last through all of that. Ours however, didn't last. It wasn't necessarily because either of us changed, but we instead just stopped. For me, jealousy, fear, and pride got in the way. I could see our relationship slowly fading away, but instead of saying words to fight for it, I stayed quiet. Hard-headed, determined, and prideful I quit the friendship. Looking back, it seemed to happen suddenly. One day she was there and the next she wasn't. And just like that, six years went by.
Six years of silence.
There were many times in those six years that I thought about her. I knew that she was now married, had children, was happy. I had graduated college, moved away from home and then back again, and had gotten my first full-time job after college. Never did I get to celebrate any of it with her. The person I would have texted or called first in any situation, was lost somewhere in the silence of six years. She was walking her life and I was walking mine.
During those six years, there were times I thought about reconnecting. I thought about sending a message to see how she was. To see if any form of friendship still remained, but I never did. I believed the lies that too much time had passed, that she was over it and had moved on, that it wasn't worth it. Forgiveness is not an easy thing to ask for. Oh, but friends, how sweet and necessary forgiveness is! I didn't want pride to be my pitfall. I wanted to choose peace instead of pride.
So, after six years of silence, I decided to break it. Forgiveness is not an easy thing to ask for, but when you do, reconciliation comes. The longer the years pass, the harder it will be; but the outcome may be much sweeter than you ever realized. The words that were always so hard to find, the pain remembered every time you tried to write them, the memories that were had to relive; all those thoughts, all the feelings may just be mutual over there on the other side. You will only know if you are brave enough to say them. First to the Lord, then to yourself, and next to your friend. The dear, sweet friend that was always by your side.
In the book Wild and Free, Hayley Morgan writes about how we have become caged by our own limitations. One of those limitations is being caught in the shame cycle. She tells the story of a friendship that withered away because she refused to forgive. A story that hit me way too close to home. She eventually confronted her friend and discovered that she had felt the same way! Forgiveness may not always look like this, but I'm so glad to say that for me and my friend it did. My friend expressed that she also had wanted to say something, but she was afraid it was too late and then didn't know what to say. Although this time comes six years later, I'm so thankful that it wasn't twelve years later or, sadly, never. And now, like Hayley and her friend, "we get to experience the gospel goodness of forgiveness; we get to be in fellowship with our Father and with each other; and we're both braver for the next time hurt or shame arises."
Ignore the six year silence that has lived between you. Focus now on the words you want to say and where you want to begin again. Send the message, speak the words in faith; knowing you have bravely said what you wanted to say so many times before. Thank the Lord for giving you the courage, the boldness to speak in truth. And then, watch the Lord work His wonders. Watch Him mend the brokenness that seemed to crumble so easily. Experience firsthand the power of forgiveness. Watch the silence of six years slowly be filled with words of healing. Watch a sweet friendship slowly come back into view. Taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8) and experience again how a friendship refreshes the soul(Proverbs 27:9).
Whether you're the one who needs forgiving or you're holding back your forgiveness from someone else, you need to bring that junk into the light. If you need forgiveness from someone, go and ask them. Bring yourself low and step into the light, knowing that Jesus is right there with you. Confess your yuck and ask forgiveness for the sin you committed and for the pain you caused. There is nothing like the freedom that comes from confession and repentance. -- Hayley Morgan, Wild and Free
Do you like confrontation or is that something you run away from? Have you ever let a relationship drift away, because pride or fear held you back? Fear is not found in love. But, there is freedom in forgiveness.
I pray that if you are searching for that, you will find it.
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