Updated on November 12, 2017
The Day I Let Animosity Go
Forgiveness is not easy.
It requires a lot of time, patience and most of all grace. Often we don’t realize how much work it takes. It isn’t only about the person we need to forgive either. We have to find a way to maintain our own emotional physical and spiritual well being. One of the things I have struggled with is something which surprised me.
I had a close friend- a Christian woman who mentored me and supported me. During that time period, I felt misunderstood and frustrated. I found myself spending a lot of time defending myself with scripture and biblical principal. I was defending myself to other Christians who should have known better than to be judgmental. Some had known me my entire life, so when they acted on an assumption I struggled to overcome.
This friend believed in me, supported my ideas and encouraged me to move forward with plans for women’s ministry. She stood beside me when I had rough family situations, and I, in turn, listened to her struggles. We talked about all those things we “aren’t supposed to talk about” because they are “taboo”. We spent a lot of time together and it was a very fulfilling friendship.
Until one day, it wasn’t.
It literally shut off like a faucet. Nothing had changed, except her opinion of me. No phone calls, texts or social media tags. No acknowledgment of my presence, even during face to face events. No support, no love, and no love lost. I now understand “radio silence”. It was completely unnerving, and I was coming undone. This was when I realized Christian people may be the best at loving, but they are the worst when it comes to treating one another with unconditional love. The. Very. Worst.
I spent days, weeks, then literally months trying to figure it out. It baffles me still because, after two and a half years, I still have no clue what went wrong.
I do know this. It still hurts. No amount of forgiveness, understanding or grace can alleviate the crushing feeling of abandonment.
When I’d drive by her house, I’d get a little pang of pain somewhere deep in my heart. When I’d see her out in public, I’d get a little anxious. When I’d hear someone talk about her, I’d go a little numb. I’d realized in all these things, I was still mostly angry at her indifference. I am still unnerved by the way she didn’t handle this. I can’t fix something if I did it wrong- because I do not know what that is. And my most astonishing revelation?
I harbored animosity toward her.
Let me say that again Read it slower this time. I harbored animosity toward her.
**Now, before you shake your head, let me explain a few things.
No one was more surprised by this revelation than I was. There were a lot of things happening and I felt abandoned. One thing in particular triggered my revelation.
My dad was diagnosed with cancer right around the same time this happened. It was not a secret, and she knew how much it rocked my world. When he died, she didn’t even send a card. No note, no flowers, no sympathy, nothing. The day of the funeral was the day I realized how much I have grown to dislike her as a person and as a Christian. It makes my heart ache to feel this way.
It had been the world’s longest week. On Saturday, we laid my sweet daddy to rest in the local cemetery and returned to the church for lunch. It was such a hard day, to put on a good face for people. It was my daddy, and all these years of faking fine had prepared me to do it well on this day. While my heart celebrated for his soul, it also panicked with his absence.
After everything was said and done, I wanted a slice of normal. I text a few friends, and we went to our local coffee shop to decompress a bit. I knew this would be the last bit of “normal” I was ever going to have because we were being forced to find a new normal. My “long lost friend” was there with her husband. Even though we had laid my daddy in the ground a few hours before, she never even offered a word. Not a sympathetic smile. Not a nod, a simple gesture or a moment of eye contact. Not a single thing. Not even an acknowledgment of existence. Everyone at our table was stunned.
This was the moment I realized what animosity looks and feels like. This was the moment I realized how much I needed to work on grace, forgiveness, and myself. This was the moment I turned to my actual friends and let them know how much I loved them, and what they meant to me. This moment was everything.
It redefined me.
I have so much to work on, and I know it. The Holy Spirit has been working on this work in progress. I have had tough days, tougher convictions. I have had to tell myself multiple times to just let it go. I had a breakthrough after a rough all day ugly-crying marathon. I had to convince myself to give this stuff to Jesus- and not take it right back. I had to hand it over and walk away. Walking away is hard.
Except, I felt so liberated, I ran instead. I ran far from it. I do not allow myself to return to those emotions. Instead, I handle them in a new way.I now feel things starting to bubble up inside, and I pray for God to heal my broken disappointed heart. I quit second guessing my closest tribe and I pray over our relationships. I stopped doubting my girlfriends’ intentions and look for the good things we have together, while unconditionally accepting the imperfections. I know how to hold them up and ask to be held.
I accept people are a package deal.
We are supposed to, by Christ’s standard, accept them where they are in this moment.
When they are cranky, love them anyway.
When they are passionate, love them anyway.
When they have something you desperately want, love them anyway.
When people disappoint, love them anyway.
Instead of tearing one another apart with our words or our silence, I realized I need to hand over the anguish of being in a situation and let Jesus handle it. For true forgiveness, I must have less of me and more of Him.
Dealing with the anxiety of realizing my own animosity, I could move forward, past the past. I have been on the mend for a while now, with the help of true friends and real grit. I now have people around me who are not afraid to tell me when I am being ugly or temperamental. They also hold me up when I am down, and call to make sure I am ok for no reason at all. They are involved in my real life and don’t check out when things aren’t easy.
I am sure what has happened to me concerning my “Christian friend” could happen again with anyone. If it does, I will be more prepared with the tools I need to survive with less injury. I have outlined scripture. I have a journal for what I call “venting prayer”. I have Jesus to turn to. And I will always remember how it feels to be abandoned and left wondering, and I never want to answer to Christ for doing that to someone else.