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
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.