Margie Hord

Expat by Default

Month: August 2018

How I Almost Wrecked a Friendship and What I learned

A long-haired woman sitting on a dirt path in a misty forest

by Andrew Neel, Unsplash

Friend or Traitor?

I have a confession to make. Those who know me might not believe how nasty I can be. Years ago, I gossiped behind a friend’s back about her family, and she found out about it. All of a sudden, when I called her, she was curt, busy, stand-offish. Any suggestion that we get together soon received vague answers. It took me a while, but reality finally sank in. She knew what I’d done and saw me as a traitor more than a friend.

Now don’t get me wrong. She was not a petty person, the type that is easily put off, a fly-by-night friend. She had been an example and a spiritual mentor to me. Losing that trusting, open relationship was devastating to me.

At first I was on the defensive. It wasn’t such a big deal, was it? I hadn’t really lied, nor had I revealed any deep, dark secret. Why would it be taken so seriously?

Eventually the truth set in. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and repentant. I knew that waiting for things to calm down was not a solution. I had to ‘fess up if I wanted to save, If possible, our friendship. My husband accompanied me to make a visit, for moral support.

Friends? Confession

by Cristian Newman, Unsplash

Our unexpected arrival met with a lukewarm welcome. It was so long ago that I don’t recall the details, but I probably said something like “We need to talk”. My fears as to the reason for her aloofness were immediately confirmed. I made my confession and asked for forgiveness, hardly daring to receive it.

My friend oh-so-graciously accepted my admission and my plea for reconciliation. Trust did not blossom immediately, but took its time. The rift eventually became barely a crack, a distant reminder of hurt and healing. Over the years, our families shared dozens of gatherings and important life events together. Knowing that the relationship had withstood such a major shake-up made it all that more valuable. Above all, God had touched us both, humbling me and giving her the grace to forgive.

Words can Wound… or Heal

So what’s the takeaway? The fact that we’re all broken people is nothing new. I messed up big time, inflicting wounds on others. We’ve all been there, done that. Healing is not a given, but it’s up to each of us to initiate it… or not. When that takes years, the wounds fester and major surgery may be required. I’m glad I took action before it got harder.

Mister James, Unsplash

I also learned that something apparently insignificant can be a major trigger. That reminds me of that reference to the tongue being a spark or flame that sets off a fire, even “the whole course of one’s life”. Gossip (in spoken or written form) is one of those “accepted evils” that is seldom equated with immorality, and is practiced by those who seem to be pretty good people. Yet I’ve seen it destroy a church. Misunderstandings, a close cousin, have wrecked marriages. On social media, words have even led to suicide.

Again and again, I’ve had to review this lesson: When in doubt, shut your mouth.

Angels in Disguise: A Border Incident

Once in a while, you get into a muddle and it seems like there’s no way out. Sometimes the answer comes in the way of “angels” in disguise.

My story happened way back in the 70’s, so the details are fuzzy. I had gone from central Mexico way up to Brownsville, Texas to renew my tourist visa. Truth is, I was a student.

After finishing my paperwork, I bought a bus ticket back and was set to go… until I was asked for a certain amount of money (a few hundred dollars) to show that I could support myself during my stay in Mexico. Oops!

Though I had opened a bank account in Mexico, it wasn’t a good idea to explain that when I was entering on a tourist visa!

That was, of course, before cell phones and internet and rapid money transfers. Suddenly I felt stranded, at a loss as to how to proceed, in a city where I knew no one.

A middle-aged woman (angel?) nearby overheard the discussion and understood my predicament. As she was about to board the southward-bound bus herself, she quickly indicated that I should look up her daughter and son-in-law, and scribbled down their address. They would at least be able to put me up for the night.

Don’t ask me how I found the apartment, or how I finally got up my nerve to knock.

“Who is it?”

In a broken voice, I responded: “Someone your mom knows”… So convincing, of course! All in Spanish, by the way.

A few more questions were asked before the door was opened; they were undoubtedly surprised to see a young white woman at her wits’ end. Knowing myself, my cheeks probably showed a few tear tracks.

In the end, they offered me supper and a sofa bed, and figured out what to do. The next day was payday and one of them would pick up their pay and lend me the money to show to the person who wanted proof of my financial solvency.

As planned, the following day they accompanied me to the bus station. After I had flashed “my” bucks for the surprised official who remembered me from my first intent, I went to give my hosts a goodbye hug and slip them the money.

I’m quite sure I sent a thank-you letter to that couple at some point. It was truly a miracle that they had trusted me enough to offer me lodging, but even more so, to lend me a considerable amount and believe that I would return it!

In Mexico they’ve recently coined a word, “Diosidencia, something like a “Godcidence” instead of a coincidence. (The final “s” in Dios makes it work better and fit into “coincidencia”). It’s a term I love to use when God seems to be behind an apparently random occurrence, which is truly a godsend.

There’s a Scripture verse that reminds me that I too should be hospitable:

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

What’s interesting is that we speak of “angels in disguise” more as the doers, not the recipients. Perhaps you will be that person for someone, or perhaps others will appear on the scene for you. When you’re in the tightest spot, expect the impossible to happen!

Feel free to share one of YOUR “Godcidences” with me below.

© 2019 Margie Hord

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