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.
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.
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.