I've been having this gnawing issue for quite some time that I have been wanting and trying to shake. Many moons ago a friend who I loved dearly deceived and (how I feel) betrayed me. My human response was to cut this person off and never have anything to do with him/her again. However, most of you who know me know that my God-fearing nature would not have any of that. I'm to be a peacemaker and seek reconciliation, if possible, at all times, if I'm really being about my daddy's business. But, it has been really (really) hard for me to do that in this case. Because I needed to heal and work through the process of healing of this betrayal, I reached out to the person who deceived me on occasions to see if there was room for a conversation. Upon God's request, I extended the olive branch to this person several times. But, my efforts were either completely ignored or the plans that were scheduled were never fulfilled or adhered to. This went on for quite some time. My animosity and frustration towards this person grew and I kept asking God, "why do you keep telling me to reach out to this person?" In every effort to be obedient to God's request, I humbled myself and went through the motions of repeatedly reaching out, encountering rejection and feeling like I'd entered into a vicious twilight zone cycle that would never end. A few days ago, God asked me to reach out again. I protested wickedly. "God, Why in the world do I have to keep doing this? This is torture and pure abuse! What is the lesson that I need to be getting that, obviously, I have not learned yet?" No matter how much I protested, God requested that I contact this person. In obedience, I did it. Once again, the person made plans to converse with me. However, we both knew that the person would be a no show. The day and time came for us to meet and nothing. As suspected, the person never called. I tell the backdrop of that story so you could understand the level of emotional duress I've gone through with this person and to explain the depth to which I have had to immerse myself into that journey of healing to feel and experience ALL of it. It also allows me to tell you the purpose of the pain in that journey and the lesson I've learned. About five days ago, my childhood friend noticed I was online and checked on me to see why I was still up so late. We started our usual banter where he teases me about something or everything (old habits don't die!), I ask his advise about something else and we exchange. We've know each other for over 30 years and he is one of the people in my life that will always have a big piece of my heart and love. Growing up, he always showed up for me even when I wasn't expecting it. He became one of my life's staples. No matter where I was in life or how far I had traveled away, he was always the jokster and smiling face I needed and could depend on when I got home. However, I remember when that all changed. I was in my late twenties, a few months pregnant with Lilah, and home for a visit during the middle of one of my semesters of medical school. It was no less than a chaotic time in my life. I was like a deer with headlights in my eyes. I was trying to figure out whether I should end my medical school career and move back to the US to start again, how I was going to provide and be a single mother to Lilah, and where and with who Lilah was going to stay if I was going to continue my medical schooling. As I was in the thick of all this deep thought, I received a visit from my childhood friend.
He came to my room and as he sat on my bed and talked to me. I could see and feel the disappointment he had. He looked at my belly and said "Ma, you know that was supposed to be my baby." Although his words made me want to cry, because in my heart I always thought the same, I kept a stoic face and kept staring at the floor so I wouldn't cry at seeing the hurt in his eyes.
Still staring at the floor, I replied, "I know." He asked me if Lilah's dad was in the picture and was even more hurt when I told him "no." We knew each other and our expectations for each other were high. The same way I couldn't believe that I was in this predicament, he couldn't believe it either. As we talked for some time, the air was so thick. I was suffocating in shame and guilt because I knew that I had hurt him with my present circumstance. He was someone that I really loved and cared for and there was nothing I could do to take back or change the kind of hurt he was experiencing. What sealed the icing on the cake was when my spirit spoke to me and said, "after today, he's not coming back." As much as I didn't want that to be true, I knew that it was and that very fact tore my heart into glass shattering pieces. Everything inside of me was crushed. At that moment, when everything seemed like it was completely falling apart, I wanted so desperately to hold on to him and not let go. I wanted him to be my pillar and support and the cheering section he had always been. I wanted to beg him to stay in my life, to be part of our lives but didn't have the courage to ask. I didn't think it was fair for me to ask. Inundated with shame, I didn't think I was worthy enough to ask him to stay and be my friend. If I did ask, I knew that it was me being selfish. I convinced myself to be stoic and that he deserved to be happy and free from me. For a long time, my heart was numb. On every vacation home to the US, I hoped that I'd see him at my house when I arrived or that shortly after my arrival he'd ring the doorbell as he had always done. But, none of my wishes came true. Each time I returned home, I noticed and felt the huge void. And each time i tucked the guilt, shame, and hurt into the compartment of my heart. You know the one, that's in that abyss area locked away for no one to get to or touch? For years, me hurting him was the regret that I've had to live with. I don't know if I was being dramatic and having a flare for drama, but I never thought I'd see or talk to him again. I didn't think that I'd ever be able to apologize and ask for forgiveness for how I hurt him. And if God granted me the ability to speak to him, I didn't even know where I'd start the conversation. But, God! Funny enough, several months ago, we got reacquainted via Facebook. ( For those of you who don't know why it's funny, it's because I am no way a social media person in the least bit. For years folks have been begging me to get accounts and I've avoided it like the plague.) And here it was that a (my) blessing was wrapped in something that I had avoided for so long. That night as my friend and I were talking, Lilah came in the room to cuddle and say her prayers before she went to bed. Although it was really late and way pass her bedtime, she wanted to see with whom I was talking. I showed Lilah my friend's picture and told her that she hadn't met him in-person but met him when she was in my belly. I told my friend that I was showing Lilah his picture and told her that they'd met when she was in my belly. Like a covering, he questioned "what is she still doing up at this hour? It is so late?" Shortly after, his heart melted with an "awwww" after he discovered she wanted to pray and cuddle before sleeping. He also interjected, "did you tell her I wanted to curse you out when I met her in your belly?" And so the long needed and awaited conversation began. Our two vulnerable hearts began to walk through the feelings and hurt of that moment so many years before. He shared that his hurt was not so much the situation but the fact that he heard and learned about it from someone else and not from me. He was so used to be included in my moments and felt that since I hadn't shared this one with him, I was telling him that I didn't want him to be part of that moment or my life anymore, which, of course, was farthest from the truth. I realized in that moment of exchange, if in those earlier years I hadn't been so stoic and lost in my chaotic thoughts and life and just spoke what I was feeling, I would have avoided a misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the truth. I would have avoided losing my friend for what seemed to be a lifetime. We could have loved, hugged, and supported each other through our hurt and still through life. As we talked more and processed our feelings, I felt this burning in my chest as God opened that internalized compartment in the abyss area of my heart and cleaned up all the debris. My friend was so loving, nurturing and supportive as I shared my heart and where my mind was. From the depths of my soul, I was finally able to apologize for hurting him. I was able to ask him for forgiveness for not telling him myself about my pregnancy. He accepted my apology and forgave me. He said that he had forgiven me and that it had been "water under a bridge" because he knew it wasn't a malintention of my heart; he knew all of the craziness I was going through at the time. I started to cry because something in my spirit at that moment got release. I was truly able to make things right between us (which is what I had always wanted and desired) and no longer had to carry the regret, shame, and guilt I felt for hurting him. It felt so good for that pain to wash away like the ebb and flow of the ocean water. It should have been no surprise to me that God would move mountains to do what seemed impossible so that my friend and I were able to fully reconcile at that moment. I had been undergoing a journey at 6 am each morning with the women in my sisterhood circle of prayer called "Into the deep." We had declared a few days before that this was the portion of the journey to reconcile with family and loved ones. Lo and behold. This was the fruit with manifestation of having the courage to stay in the deep. After my friend and i hung up (it was way into the midmorning hours now), with an abundance of tears falling down my face and feeling the swollenness of my eyes, God spoke. "There was the lesson. I needed you to know and understand the level of hurt that you caused someone else. Because you walked through the journey, in obedience, experiencing and deeply feeling that pain, you knew exactly how to appropriately handle this situation. You were able to humbly tell the truth, repent, apologize, ask for forgiveness and reconcile with your friend. In your frustration and being tired, you were also able to let me in to heal the deep spaces of your heart. Thus, you are now released. You do not have to reach out to that person anymore because you have done everything and all that I've told you to do. If there is contact or communication needed for reconciliation, that person will do it. You are released" Can you believe it? I'm still feeling the aftershock of it. No more regret, shame or guilt. No more toiling for the promise of God. No more hurt. I've walk that journey enough of feeling pain. I've conquered it. This is what victory feels like. This is Release.
For those of you who are declaring this season as your season of release and you love, like I do, the shirts in the photos, please visit the In-serenity website (https://in-serenity.com/shop/p/mdh0cl3vakiraghucaf98nudmjoefb) to support the truly wonderful and creative woman, my friend Ms. Chanabelle Arriaga, who designed them.
Have a great day of thanks!