Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Prodigal Friends

"May God help us to be a little kinder, showing forth greater forbearance, to be more forgiving, more willing to walk the second mile, to reach down and lift up those who may have sinned but have brought forth the fruits of repentance, to lay aside old grudges and nurture them no more."
-Gordon B. Hinckley
(Link HERE to full article)

I had a recent experience I felt a need to share.

First the backstory:
Years ago I had a friend who I loved. Something happened that I wasn't fully aware or understanding of and in a situation that seemed out of the blue to me, this friend suddenly ended our friendship.
It was a difficult ending for me. It hurt me deeply and I spend a year or so running the gamut of emotions from angry to confused to sad to bitter to wistful... and I finally landed on acceptance and peace. I didn't quite understand what I had done, but I tried to improve on my best guesses and I decided to forgive this person and hope the favor would be returned to me.
In my head that was the end of it.

I was surprised a few weeks ago to be contacted by this person, who explained their situation at that time (which explained a lot of what I had not understood about the ending of this friendship), and then apologized to me.

I can't express my joy and relief at now understanding the situation (which made a lot of sense) more fully and being able to freely forgive as I had worked through that process already.

My prodigal friend had returned to me.

I think we all have prodigal friends and are someone's prodigal somewhere too.

Now don't get me wrong, some friendships need to end for very good reasons. I can attest to that. And sometimes when a friend returns it is better to forgive, but not return to the friendship.

But, for the most part, I think our friends will return to us one day and we will return to others too.
We just need to be patient, hold our gossiping tongues (that one is hard sometimes, I  know), and genuinely pray for good to come of those who align themselves against us.
That last one has been hard for me. Sam has actually been the example on that one. When people have hurt my heart, Sam has been the first one to tell me they are jerks and then tell me to pray for the jerk and let it go. And to stop calling them jerks.
It works. The bitter feelings leave a lot faster, the the chance to love them from a distance comes sooner and really is a better way to live.

I read this quote the other day:

Let me live in a house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by—
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner’s seat,
Or hurl the cynic’s ban;—
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.
(Sam Walter Foss, “The House by the Side of the Road,” in James Dalton Morrison, ed., Masterpieces of Religious Verse [1948], 422)

The thing about this race of men is that I think it goes in a loop. The same people run by again and again and I don't see it as a coincidence. I see it as a chance to right past wrongs. Sometimes we are lucky and get many chances as that person runs by us over and over again. Sometimes we don't and that is a shame. But either way, isn't it better to be a friend, even when someone is not a friend to us? 
What can it hurt, really?

Something I am learning is that when others are cruel to us, when they mistreat us, gossip about us, ridicule us and we really don't understand why... that really isn't our problem. It isn't a reflection of who or what WE are. It is a reflection on themselves, on who and what they think THEY are. And that is sad. We should love ourselves enough to remember that and extend mercy towards those who seek to offend or hurt us because they have some sort of pain in their heart that is causing them to lash out at us.
Even if we did offend someone, they have a choice on how to treat us just like we have a choice on how to treat them. We can all be petty and cruel to each other, mock each other, hope for bad things to come to our enemies... or we can be their friend from a distance, even if being a friend to them merely means keeping our lip zipped when others want to gossip about them. Sometimes taking that higher road is as big as it gets. 
I believe in doing that we can learn to forgive and love and maybe one day that friend will return to us at which time we will be able to freely forgive and decide on the rest (and for the record I don't think we have to refriend people who have hurt us, in fact sometimes that is a really dumb idea. We just need to forgive).

Anyhow, prodigal friends. I have some. I am one. I am grateful for the example my newly returned friend has been to me and for the gift that friend gave me by letting me forgive.
I hope I am smart enough to follow their lead and remember this lesson.

Hope you don't mind my sharing.


  1. I found your blog through PYP. Thank you for this post! It is exactly what I needed to hear today as I climb into my cave to hide from the world for awhile to lick my wounds. I even posted Pres. Hinckley's quote on my own blog. You rock!

  2. hmmm.....I love this one and am so glad you worked things out. Good to have a good friend return!