After 5 years of prayer, darkness, depression, running from memories that brought me joy, gallivanting with memories that sowed hurt and anger, and failure to compartmentalize, my heart has been healed. I wondered when that day would come, or would I just stay seated on the train platform bench occasionally looking over my ticket for some glimmer of release.
Kinda need a back story, me thinks. Five years ago a close friendship of mine changed, inevitably so. However, it was changed in a way that was without consulting me or even giving me a heads up. I was left in the dark, feeling abandoned and rejected. What dug the deepest into me was that close friends had done this on several occasions in my past—leaving deep wounds, and I had confided this pain to this friend—vulnerabilities I rarely show people for this very reason. Yet it was happening again to me.
I knew that I was hurt when it happened, but I didn’t know how deeply the pain went. And I wouldn’t know for another 6 months. By then it was too late though, the seeds of anger had taken root and that anger turned to bitterness. It was corrupting me, I was beginning to question to what extent I helped people. I began to think t myself “I did this whole opening up thing, and look where it got me.” A year later I was approached by a good friend about the bitterness I was storing in myself, and I released it. But the pain remained, the hurt and some of the anger were still there. I didn’t know why, why won’t it go away? It felt as if something inside of me broke, and I didn’t know how to fix it.
During this time I shoved out of my mind every memory of my friend—never to be rekindled, I was so afraid to revisit the memories that brought me joy because I didn’t want to long for her. I wanted her in my past, to be just a distant memory. I unfriended her on social media, erased her contact from my phone, and archived away every photo and video that I shot of her. I stopped watching movies that had actresses that looked like her, turned away from Walmart ads that resembled her face. But I held onto the memories of her that hurt me, that made me angry at her. Those memories seemed to serve a purpose some how, they justified my hurt and kept alive my feeling of being wrong. It felt as if I remembered her goodness then she would be let off of the hook for her wrongs against me.
But it was wrong. So terribly wrong. And it was eating me up inside, affecting my friendships with others and making me distant from my loved ones.
By the end of 2018 I was beaten down so far that I just wanted the pain to stop. I remembered in Romans when Paul said to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I had been plagued for so long those last 4 years with cynicism, dark thoughts born of anger and bitterness, and I knew that I needed my mind reprogrammed. And I knew that there was no better thing to reprogram your way of thinking and seeing others than Scripture. For the next 6 months I filled my mind and my heart with Scripture, to root out the darkness that I had allowed to take hold—in some cases courted, and to transform my mind.
Then this last weekend I received the healing that I had been hoping for. I was searching on my computer for some documents and among the search results my computer showed pictures, videos, and voicemails of my old friend. I froze. Up to now I ignored them. However I asked myself: “What if my memory of her is tainted, what if only remembering the hurt she caused me has turned her into a villain that she isn’t? What if I’m wrong?”
I had a rush of anxiety, so scared of the pandora’s box I was about to open. Memories are different for every person. For some, memories flow in and out of consciousness, but for me memories are stapled on the wall for all of me to see. I took a deep breath, and with trepidation I opened a chat that her and I had, months after my pain had started. I started to read, and I read a soul who was concerned about her friend and wanted him to know that they were still friends. I read the kind spirit of my friend that I had always known, but clouded out by my hurt. My heart melted, and the crusty blackness started to wither on the vine. I was being reacquainted with the friend that I had lost, and her wonderful qualities that always brought a smile to my face.
I then opened the photos my computer had found for me. I saw all of the fun times that we had together, the moments that we became close and started to know each other. I saw my friend full of life and smiles at the State Fair, our walks late at night around the block under Cleburne’s blackness—slightly embarrassed when I told her she had nice feet haha. I saw my friend full of tears in heartbreak as I held her hands at Starbucks while I prayed over her, pleading with me why this was happening to her. I felt once again her hands in my own trembling as I prayed, tears falling down silently pleading for her suffering to stop. I saw the sassy looks she gave me, silently telling me that she knew that I was up to no good. This was my dear sweet friend.
Lastly I opened the most difficult of memories, the videos that I had recorded of us. Moving pictures and sound has a way of hitting us the hardest. I saw her playing a hide and go seek game, blindfolded she found me and when I told her I was video recording her she gave me a large smile and flipped me off haha. I watched again as she played with children, playfully throwing me sassy looks because I was recording her, acting as a patient while the children mended her wounds.
I found myself laughing once again, cracking up while I watched my friend on video and in photos, memory upon memory rushing back to me and one after another a grin dashing across my face. Remembering the good memories again, reliving them, the hurt she caused was whittled down. The wrong that she had done was finally properly weighed against her good, allowing me to see what she did that hurt me for what it was: A terrible mistake that she needed grace for. My heart softened once again for my dear friend, and although what she did still hurt, I couldn’t condemn her for it any longer. She messed up, but when have I not? I’m no better than she is. She deserves grace and forgiveness as much as I have needed it.
And so 5 years later my heart has been healed by the Lord, anger and bitterness has been released. My friend and I no longer talk, but I hope one day I’ll have an opportunity to laugh with her again, goof off, and apologize for the hurt and anger that I clung to.