One the hardest things to do is to accept someone else’s apology when you believe they’ve done you wrong. An even harder thing to do is to choose to make peace with someone who has offended you. Why? Sometimes, it’s a lot more comforting to hold onto a grudge than let go of the offense and extend grace instead. I learned this lesson a few years ago during a tense time with a close friend who came to me for moral support during a difficult situation in her marriage.
As I listened to my friend talk about her very troubling problems, I had to admit that there was a small part of me that thought about how quickly things had changed from just a few weeks earlier when she’d called me to state very adamantly that out of loyalty to her husband she was ending our nearly 20 year old friendship. How ironic, I thought that now I was the one that she was turning to for help when her “man” was wounding her.
But surprisingly, instead of me stating this to her, I found myself just listening to her as she poured out the pain in her heart caused by the person who a few weeks ago I saw as trying to drive a wedge between our friendship. She even made a statement about how she realized that he was trying to drive all of her friends away but that she was not going to let him do so. When I hung up the phone with her nearly two hours later, I then realized that I’d learned a very important lesson. It went beyond the lesson of humility and the importance of taming my sharp tongue. The situation reminded me of James 3:18: “Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
It seems as though the important lesson centered around my honestly answering the question: Is it more important to be right or to have a relationship? I mean, is the value of the friendship worth more than the value of being able to say I’m right? Another thing that I have to admit is that because of my pride and arrogance, it used to be not so long ago, that I was more concerned with being right. Foolishly, I was willing to sacrifice relationships with the excuse that if the person couldn’t handle being told they were wrong, then maybe I didn’t need them to be in my circle of friends.
But thank God for growth, change and deliverance! No longer do I think that way and I’ve learned to better treasure the friendships that God blesses me with. I’ve learned by reassessing myself and my friendships that they are not about what others can add to my life, but for what things of value that I can add to my friends’ lives. I also learned that being “right” may seem to add to my life, but often times it adds nothing to the lives of others. After all, it is by building and rebuilding relationships that we can be healed.
Shewanda Riley is a Dallas, Texas based author of “Love Hangover: Moving From Pain to Purpose After a Relationship Ends” and “Writing to the Beat of God’s Heart: A Book of Prayers for Writers.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @shewanda.