Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Forgiveness Equation

Today I was hurt by a friend. Actually, it's been building up for a long time, but today various sins of omission added up to one big, ugly wound. Upon coming home, feeling the emotional damage of this situation, I turned to that source of wisdom and knowledge…Google. (Yeah, I know there's a better Source. Google is just usually more amusing.) I started reading about what makes a bad friend, and man, there are a lot of ways to be a bad friend--which, incidentally, are mostly just ways to be a bad person, like the Gossip, the Fake, the Egotist, etc. After deciding the online quiz "Are You a Bad Friend?" was lame-o and didn't have enough multiple choice options, I came upon a quote from William Blake. It rings truer than most of the fluff on the internet.

"It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend."

It's funny, there are so many verses in Scripture about how to treat your enemies--how to love and forgive them--that I've rarely given thought to how to forgive a friend. Not that I haven't been hurt by friends before. But when I have, I've mostly either swept it under the rug or simply pulled out of the relationship. Confrontation is a dirty word in my vocabulary. (And I feel like I'm about to convince myself that I need to confront this friend about these hurts…which was not supposed to be the point of this post!) So allow me to sweep THAT under the rug for the moment ;) and state the obvious: friends have far greater potential to hurt us than enemies. Friends know us intimately; we trust them. A true enemy is by comparison easy to forgive because we have not opened to them that fragile place within that seeks love and connection, and they have not opened theirs to us. We can justify an enemy's behavior, and justification is like the butler who ushers you in to the forgiveness parlor.

Oh, but a friend! We know they should know better. We know their intentions, their heart. We know when they are acting inexcusably--if there is such a thing as inexcusable to a Christian.

I know I will need grace to figure out how to "ex" (remove) the "cuse" (accusation) from this friend. In my mind, I see a kind of algebraic equation in which I must move around my variables to change my "inculpate" ("in" = assign, "culpa" guilt/blame) to "exculpate" ("ex" = remove "culpa" = guilt/blame).

I think it looks something like this:

In(culp)ate = Ex(culp)ate

In In

That cancels it out, right? ....But I digress. The point is forgiveness, and ultimately, the discomfort of I'd-rather-be-at-the-proctologist-than-this confrontation of a friend. Ugh…wish me courage.


  1. Blah--I'm with you on the whole confrontation thing. :) David is much more level-headed about things like that. I was reminded of the passage in the gospels where Jesus reminds Peter that he must always forgive his brother...and then I remembered that in this case, the brother had sought forgiveness. At least then you have the surety that your forgiveness will be accepted. Much harder to confront someone who perhaps doesn't even see a problem. Courage!

  2. I had a situation last year where my very bestest of besty-best friends hurt me. Really, really badly. It's been rough, learning how to forgive and what that means,exactly. I think forgiveness happens in layers. You forgive the best you can until the next time it bugs you...then you forgive again.

    One thing that has helped me a lot is to decide every time I think about my friend, I pray for her and her family. I heap blessings on that girl. She's gotten more prayers from me in the last year than she did in 10 years of besty-best friendship. Well, that's an exaggeration, but that's what it feels like.

    So, there's my two cents. Courage to you!

  3. It takes so much courage and wisdom to confront well. I will pray for you, as I am praying for my daughters this weekend, as they lovingly confront a dear friend.


  4. Thanks to each of you!

    Brittany, that's exactly it--it's so difficult to bring up an issue when the other person doesn't even realize it's there.

    Sandy, I do really like the idea of praying for this person every time I think of her. It's a way to soften my own heart and try to see her as God does. (Also, are you still friends with your former besty-best friend?)

    Glenda, thank you so much for your prayers! I truly appreciate them. :)

  5. I'll take your hand and we'll walk together Sarah.
    VERY recently i had my own friend hurt ME. I did confront her, much to my disappointment coz she failed to JUSTIFY why she didnt do what she promised me (to come see me so we can work on our friendship).
    I'm hectically struggling coz I've had enough. I am emotionally tired of struggling with the friendship and trying to make it work ON MY OWN.
    I have allowed her to use me and throw me aside, and perhaps God wanted me to see thats not me.
    In time Sarah we'll see the purpose to the friend hurt