Hurt feelings and bitterness are like dirt on a window pane. The bright light of friendship that once poured through the glass is obscured and shadows are cast on the the relationship. This glass has two sides and both sides must be cleaned for friendship to flourish again.
I am thankful for the friendships where bitterness and estrangement have been intolerable—where it hasn’t taken long for both sides to apologize and begin rebuilding the relationship after an argument. Not all of my friendships have fared so well. I can think of several situations where the disagreement was sharp and my feelings of justification kept me from seeking a peaceful solution. I don’t always make the best choices.
There is a savor to bitterness, especially when it’s hot. It is difficult to imagine thinking any other thoughts while the hurt is fresh. Pride is another impediment. It takes initiative to seek reconciliation after two parties stop talking. It may seem easier to paint our side of the glass black and stop worrying about it. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I can only stand the darkness for so long.
There are two separate cases where I reached my threshold of discomfort and decided to act. I wanted peace and comfort in the place of bitterness. As I no longer lived close to the people involved, I sent letters expressing my feelings and my desires to forgive and be forgiven. It felt good telling them I wanted to put the bad feelings behind me. It felt good to forgive them, and to ask forgiveness in return. Neither person sent me a response.
The pain is of a different kind now. Sadness has taken the place of bitterness. My side of the window is as clean as I can make it, but the other side is dark. It would be nice to have closure and to know that the rift has been fully mended. Unfortunately I can’t make someone forgive me. I can make the suggestion, but they too must decide that they have had enough of the bitterness and let it go.
Knowing how good it would feel to receive a positive word from these former friends, I need to be an example of someone who forgives more quickly in the future.