Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Tale of Redemption and Forgiveness

Once upon a time, there were two college girls who met for dinner at Jason's Deli.  This was their first meeting, and they quickly discovered there was no way it was going to be their last.  The girls were introduced through one gal's boyfriend who had grown up with the other gal.  When he discovered both girls suffered from endometriosis, he knew they had to meet.  He was right!  A beautiful friendship began, and for about 3 years, everyone lived happily.

The girls survived surgeries together, wrote history papers at odd hours of the day, lived up Aggie life, and fell in love with a sweet puppy that went many places with them. They got to know each others' families and adored them.

Soon, the boyfriend proposed to and married his girlfriend.  The friend excitedly helped plan a wedding that the military, ice storms, and Texas-sized dilemmas would not derail.  It was beautiful.

The married friend began life as a military wife, and both girls began their teaching careers.  The single friend met her prince and fell in love too.

But, this is real life, and real life doesn't always jump straight to 'happily ever after'.  See, I was the girl cheering on my soon to be military wife friend Kaitlin, who was the other girl.  Somewhere along the way, someway, somehow, I let jealously of something that I cannot even name invade my heart.  I let fear of losing a friend shut me down.  I let anger and envy at absolutely nothing take over my feelings.  I lost that friendship because I smothered it and forced it to go away.  I felt lonely and hollow, not because I didn't have other friends I loved but because I let sin destroy something that wasn't meant to be destroyed.

Eventually I began listening to God whisper to my heart.  He was telling me that this was my fault.  He was telling me that I was guilty of sin.  The Lord didn't leave me with that though.  He told me to seek Him.  Thankfully, I obeyed.   I confessed my anger and jealousy to Jesus.  He forgave me.  Then I began to pray for God to restore our friendship.  Of course, restoration also requires action, so ever so gingerly I began to reach out to the friend I pushed away.  She responded.  Carefully, we began communicating again.  At first it was just bits and pieces, feeling our way back into a friendship that had been beautiful and full but that sin had corrupted.  After months, we began sending longer messages and making occasional calls, all while trusting each other with more and more.  Y'all, forgiveness is beautiful.  My dear friend accepted me back and knew I meant I was sorry.  She loved me just as much as ever in return. God's redemption is perfect and real and ours when we obey.  I hate that I learned this the hard way, but I've learned.  Oh, how sweet the mercy of Jesus!

So, after five years apart, this happened this past week:

Kaitlin was in town to see her in-laws, so we got to visit 3 different days and do what we do best: love on babies, eat chocolate, talk, and laugh.  And be real. Talk about the hard times in the midst of our silly mess of giggles. Be Aggies.  Be girls. Oh, bless it!  I met her two precious boys and fell head over heels for both of them.

Here's the bottom line: I have regrets.  I regret this beautiful smile wasn't in my wedding.  I regret not being nearby when her precious boys were born.  I regret not getting to come battle ready during the dark days of deployment.  But, I refuse to wallow in those regrets.  God is the God of this story.  He is the God of 2nd chances and new beginnings and loving more deeply and honestly than in the past.  That is what I cling to, and now, we can be there from here on out for each other. This is 8 years of friendship through highs and lows and stupidity and sin and forgiveness and love.  I am thankful and blessed.

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