Throwaway People – Redemption

Here is the conclusion of this 3-part series on discarded friendships. Shortly after our friend wrote the last article, expressing his pain at being summarily cut off from two meaningful relationships, he wrote this:

It’s both funny and sad, how human emotions wax and wane. One moment we’re utterly convinced our ruin is at hand, and in the next we’re dancing in the streets because some small thing has gone our way. … Last night I wrote of a month-long tension which was eating away at me from the inside out, and I couldn’t have meant it more. Today, however, just minutes after waking up, my heart was relieved and my resolve strengthened. All was well in the universe, mostly.

The second friend mentioned in last night’s blog entry had emailed me just hours after I posted about my fears for us. As I lay there in bed last night, both before and after writing, I had an unshakable sense of loneliness and sadness tormenting me. I was sure that I would never hear from these people again, and I prayed to God twice to please take my grief and help me trust in Him for answers. … But God, despite my unbelief, was gracious in answering my prayers, because less than ten minutes out of bed I found an unexpected email waiting for me. My friend had written to apologize for her silence, telling me that it was unintentional, and that she’d thought of me over Christmas.

I cannot honestly express right now just how wonderful this makes me feel. I suppose it kind of flipped my world upside-down. I went from tired and frustrated to exhilarated in an instant. Just as Christ told the parable of the woman who lost a coin, then called her friends to rejoice with her when she found it, I dragged my brother out on a long walk to share with him my joy at this unexpected turn of events. I spent all day thankful for it, and now that it’s late at night and I’m lying in bed, I can’t sleep all over again. But this time I’m happy.

… A burden has been lifted, a friendship I felt damaged has been restored, and there is a lesson to be learned here which I am anxious not to forget. This all started because I made a flippant and unnecessary remark that I need not have. From there, it kind of spiraled out of control as I saw things, until I was left feeling like I’d betrayed a friend and lost their trust. Sure, 90% of it was phantom pain, but the bottom line is that it’s helped tremendously to open the eyes of my heart to the way I talk to others.

Christ was blunt, but never tactless. He was direct without hurting his enemies. They hated the truth that He spoke, but could never accuse Him of raw spitefulness. I need to operate in the same way in my own dealings with those around me. I believe it is time to … learn to think about what I say before I have my toes halfway down my throat, and to consider things not just from the perspective of how they’ll affect my standing with others, but how they’ll hurt or heal those around me. Jesus told his disciples to be as gentle as doves, yet wise as serpents. One need not abandon wit entirely in order not to hurt others for a cheap laugh. There’s a line drawn somewhere in the sand and I’ve got to learn not to cross it.

I’m so excited right now. Even my sense of desperation regarding my other friend from whom I’ve still heard nothing isn’t hurting me any more. In fact, I feel genuinely hopeful for the first time in weeks. My mind’s eye is filled with visions of restoration and peace; of best-case scenarios in anticipation of having them proved true. Because God is awesome like that, for which I am immeasurably grateful.

It’s 5:00 AM, and time to go back to bed, but even if I can’t sleep I’ll still be happy. Tired, but happy. Not that happiness itself is the goal of life, or even an emotion which won’t fade in time, but for whatever it may be worth it’s a welcome change in my life. A day like today really helps you readjust your perspective on all of your relationships, and challenges you to put forth a better effort than you did yesterday. Today is the first day of the rest of my life; to any of you who choose to share it with me in any measure whatsoever, all I can say is thank you from the bottom of my heart.

______________

A month later, the second relationship was restored:

Sometimes things work out all right in the end. I tend to forget that on occasion. I suppose it’s a personal failing—a fracture in my faith, if you will. But when I’m proved wrong I owe it to God to give credit where it’s due, and just last night He answered a prayer which I’ve been uttering for months, all the while believing it to be a lost cause. I’m thrilled to have my ignorance exposed once again.

A while ago I posted a blog about two friends with whom I’d lost contact, lamenting some harsh words exchanged between myself and one in particular. The first I received an email from the very next morning, which blew my mind. And last night, totally out of the blue as I was playing video games, my other estranged friend popped up to talk. There was no fanfare, no deal made of our silence, but simply a “How have you been?” that meant the world to me. We played catch-up for a while, and then she had to go to bed. And before she signed off, I made a point to thank her simply for talking to me again.

There’s a lesson to be learned here, as there always is in life. While I still believe that what I’d said in my letter several months ago was valid, the important thing now is not to press those issues. To be gentle and patient when we disagree, and to learn where those “tripwires” in our conversations are, and be sensitive to her feelings. Sometimes being right isn’t worth how wrong it feels, I guess. Or if anything, once a matter has been established and my case plead, there’s no need to re-tread those paths. What’s said is said, and if it meant anything to her it will settle in her heart and refuse to go away. If not, then there’s certainly no need to aggravate old wounds.

But regardless of my philosophizing and ceaseless pondering, the important thing here is that the God I believe in is a God of restoration and healing. A God who loves His children and revels in relationships. He’s given me a chance to redeem myself to someone I love, from whom I’ve been separated for months, and I’m eager not to let Him down. And I’m grateful that He hears our prayers and cares enough to answer them—sometimes with a resounding “Yes!”

I’m going to bed happy tonight.

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