Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Seventy Times Seven?

It’s been quite challenging for me lately, as far as debating whether or not to continue a journey of friendship with someone I cared for very much. We’re all complex and have our own opinions, beliefs and whatnot. It’s normal. But when an argument or a disagreement takes place, when is it time to draw the line in order to decide whether or not staying in the friendship is a healthy choice? It’s one thing for two people to disagree about whatever, but it’s another to insult or attack another on a personal level. For instance: you and a friend argue about a misunderstanding or perhaps, a break in a promise that was set - those things can be resolved. But when your friend personally attacks you - whether it’s about your physical appearance, insults about your family or maybe an attack on your integrity: when does it come to the point of realizing your friend obviously has hidden resentments, anger or even jealousy toward you? 

I ended a friendship a couple of weeks ago. This person returned to me to give me advice on what to reveal on my Twitter account. (An obvious excuse to communicate.) I asked her politely if she would stop all contact with me, due to her past verbal abuse and personal attacks. The friendship turned toxic and yet, I truly and genuinely forgive this person, but I also choose to stay away from her, only because it happens more often than I can handle. I wished her the best, but I was very honest and explained that, yes I totally forgive the words she lashed out at me, the threat to my family and friends, (about slandering them online) and all of the outbursts I have endured during this friendship. There were good times. I won’t ever forget them. But at the same time, I don’t think I can ever forget the hurt and pain of her words echoing throughout my mind about all the terrible things she has said to me. I always get, “I was just mad at you, I’m sorry”, and then it’s back to buddies again. But how many times do I have to experience this?

“Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.’” -Matthew 18:21-22

Forgiveness is a beautiful thing. I forgive her. However, choosing to stay in the friendship is another thing. I have no hard feelings toward this person, but I do remember, I’m only human. I am not resentful or wish bad upon her - I just want to leave things be and move on. I remember I was on the other side of this scenario too. I remember begging for forgiveness because I too, had verbally attacked someone and regretted it afterwards. That person forgave me, but chose to stay out of the friendship because she was so hurt by it. Through growing pains of maturing, I am learning more and more that forgiveness starts with loving ourselves and realizing that YES we can forgive those who hurt us terribly, and at the same time, we have a choice to improve our overall well-being by staying out of toxic friendships and relationships. If I didn’t learn the hard way, I probably wouldn’t understand it today. I’m thankful I went through what I did---having a friend choosing not to stay, because today, I’m understanding that to “forgive and forget” does not mean to lose all self-respect. I love myself too much to ever go through that type of abuse.