Have you ever hurt someone (it’s inevitable) but not realize until months or years later how much you’ve hurt them?
I’ve dealt with a couple of situations like that. Where I just don’t have the maturity to recognize the full scope of my mistake until much later.
Usually what happens is that someone else inflicts a similar hurt on me and then epiphany strikes: I did that very thing to someone else!
The same kind of conflict/misunderstanding arises, just with a different offender, forcing me to admit that the common denominator in all those situations is…ME!
I had an experience like that a few months ago.
Nearly five years ago, I confronted a friend about something she neglected to do that I found hurtful. I was angry and wanted her to feel how messed up she was. The upside was that I was able to get it off my chest. The downside: our relationship chilled considerably.
Then I went through some growing pains and the Holy Spirit brought this experience back to mind last year. I was seeing it through fresh eyes.
I had expectations that I didn’t fully express and when I was disappointed, I took it out on her. God was teaching me not to go outside of Him to fulfill my needs and desires.
I felt a strong desire to talk to this friend and let her know. It thought it was kind of silly, given that the experience was so long before, but I prayed about it and asked the Lord to give me an opportunity if He thought it was a good idea.
About a month later, I was standing in line at a café and this person was in front of me. We said “hi” to each other of course, but the conversation ended quickly. The line was pretty long and I felt like this was it – the opportunity from God. So I drew up my courage and said “Hey, I’ve been meaning to talk to you…” Worry lines appeared on her face. My poor friend!
I proceeded to tell her about my realization: that I didn’t handle that situation well back then. I shared what God had taught me about trusting Him to provide for my needs. And I apologized for my lack of maturity. She also apologized and we hugged. It was such a healing moment.
And do you know what happened next? It was as if that one moment of vulnerability opened up real lines of communication between us again. Not long after that we met up for coffee. She shares aspects of her life with me more readily now ( post-apology) than she ever did before (pre-offense). We are becoming good friends again.
I was not expecting that! Praise God for humbling moments and second chances. I’m grateful that the Holy Spirit didn’t allow me to let this one slide. I gained back a friend as a result of His gentle prodding!
And furthermore, the lesson I learned is that:
When you realize you’ve hurt someone, there’s no expiration date for making it right.
Our God truly is a God of reconciliation. This experience gave me a glimpse of His heart – Christ died for us so we could be reconciled to Him! (2nd Corinthians 5:18-19)
Do you need to make it right with someone? If a person came to mind as you read my story, I encourage you to reach out to them! (Even as I write this, I can think of someone else I need to get in touch with.)
There’s no guarantee that everyone will be as receptive as this particular friend was, so I pray you have courage. Regardless of the results, let’s consider these situations opportunities to make things right and demonstrate God’s love through our humanity.
“And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”2 Corinthians 5:19