She was crying when she told me that she thought we should "take a break" from our friendship.
What was this all about after being friends for six years? What I thought was just a bad week turned into months that taught me an unforgettable lesson about forgiveness.
I was really angry and hurt. I began to search every word and action to see if I could find the first offense, but there was no light there. She didn't want to talk about it, and my conversations with myself always hit a dead end. People who knew about the situation kept telling me it wasn't my problem, but that wasn't much consolation.
When I found myself crossing to the other side of the street so I wouldn't have to speak to her, I knew I needed to pray humbly to God to learn something more about the depth of real forgiveness. This was not something that I could figure out on my own.
Both my friend and I had turned regularly to God in our lives to solve problems, and I knew that I needed to trust that she was doing this now, too. I stopped looking at myself as the cause of the problem.
The simple thought stayed with me that if God was the only Cause and God was good, then He could bring forth only harmony, peace, joy - all the elements of friendship. If God, Love, was the source of this friendship, then God would always care for it in the best way possible.
One of the lines in the Lord's Prayer that Jesus gave to his disciples says, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, gave a spiritual interpretation of that line in her book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "And Love is reflected in love" (page 17).
As I prayed to understand this, I realized that forgiveness may include forgetting that someone has done something wrong to us, but it is actually more than this. Love never owes anything because it is continuously expressing all the love it has and is. God as Love is never waiting for a debt to be paid because He is continuously expressing the abundance of love. I saw that both my friend and I were inseparable from this love of God whose ever-presence could remove any sense that someone owed me something. What a deep sense of forgiveness I felt.
I stopped struggling. Instead, I felt a quiet shifting of thought. I found a deeper trust eliminating the worry involved in trying to fix something. It felt like finally finding the right place for a puzzle piece.
Spiritual understanding filled the space where hurt and anger had been. I also recognized the lifting of a feeling of dependency on this friendship for my joy and happiness. In a very natural way we began to talk again. At one point, she told me that she was sorry. She had been working through some questions she'd had about her own identity.
I could honestly tell her that I understood. Although our friendship never took quite the same form, we sometimes got together to share ideas. This was over 10 years ago, and occasionally we are in contact even though we no longer live in the same city.
If at times there are separations in our relationships and forgiveness is needed, Love and its expression, always present, are ready to show us that the debt is already paid.
Rejoice the soul of thy servant:
for unto thee, O Lord,
do I lift up my soul.
For thou, Lord, art good,
and ready to forgive;
and plenteous in mercy
unto all them that call upon thee. Give ear, O Lord, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice
of my supplications.
In the day of my trouble
I will call upon thee:
for thou wilt answer me.