reconciliation is hard!

about three and a half years ago, i experienced the total breakdown of a friendship that had meant so much to me to that point. our lives were entwined, and our families spent a large amount of time together. there was a pretty tough spot, followed, about 6 months later, by a deeply, deeply painful complete falling-out. we both hurt each other in profound ways that seemed, at the time, unrecoverable.

well. at the time i didn’t think we had both hurt each other. at the time, i just thought she was hurting me. i couldn’t see past my own pain. i thought she was making things up in order to hurt me.

i missed the friendship, but was filled with so much pain over the whole thing, that all i could really experience was anger (a friend told me — unrelated to this — the other day, that her therapist wisely told her that anger is never a primary emotion. it’s always secondary. the primary emotions beneath it are usually pain or fear). the anger lasted, red-hot and consuming and full of accusation and assumption, for well over a year. i felt justified and betrayed and morally right.

then time passed. and after a while, all that was left was the absence of the friendship. the issues that had caused the instant implosion of the relationship were so long gone it seemed stupid to recap them in my mind or in my emotions. and i started to, occasionially, unspokenly, long for the friendship again. but i didn’t have the courage or humilty to pursue it. and i was fragile enough in my hurt that i couldn’t bear the risk of any attempt at reconcilliiation, or even contact.

so we didn’t have a single contact for 3 1/2 years. until two days ago.

the night before, i’d been with a few other people who knew this friend, and her name came up casually. one had run into her, and another had had email contact with her. the nudge from god was unmistakable. i even voiced it to those friends that night, that i had been thinking for a year about contacting her, but wasn’t sure i had the courage. i wasn’t sure i could risk not getting a response, or, even worse, getting a harsh response. but when the person who had had email contact with her sent me her address two days ago, i knew what i had to do. i stared at my computer screen for a long time with only her name as an opening to an email. then i walked through a description of how it had dawned on me that the assumptions i had been making about her didn’t align with what i knew about her character. and that had, after a bit more time, brought me to a place of realizing that her actions must have come from a place of deep hurt. and that allowed me, after a bit more time, to have sympathy for the hurt, which, in one way or another, i had caused. and that, after a bit more time, brought me to a place of missing our friendship.

i explained that i didn’t know if it was possible for us to connect in a meaningful way or not. i knew we would never see eye-to-eye on what happened, and there wouldn’t be any value, at this point, in diving into all that. but, i wondered, if we could try to re-engage the friendship in spite of that. i pushed send and took a very deep breath.

10 minutes later she called. i couldn’t even breathe to take the call for about 15 seconds. when i did, she said, “your email meant so much to me, and i have been feeling the same thing for about a year.” and before i knew it, we had plans for coffee the next day.

so yesterday, we met at starbucks. when i walked up, and she was sitting there, we were both visibly shaking — it was totally obvious to both of us that we were nervous. we hugged, and i told her i loved her, and she responded likewise. then we both breathed nervously, glanced around, and wandered into an awkward silence, effectively broken by her funny statement, “geez, i feel like i’m on a blind date!”

after an hour and fifty minutes of effortless talking, i glanced at my watch and realized i really had to get back to work. there hadn’t been a big “i forgive you,” or “will you forgive me?” either way. that wasn’t really the point. the point was that we valued each other, and our friendship, more than the undeniable nastiness that was real and had occurred and couldn’t either be directly addressed or swept under a rug.

near the end of our time, she said, “i don’t know how two people could have this conversation we’re having without god in it.” so true.

10 thoughts on “reconciliation is hard!”

  1. Mark,

    Wow! A couple of things…

    1. Showing maturity leads to good things! I am so glad you emailed her, and that she called you. Getting older isnt so bad when it leads to more maturity :-)

    2. I love that your friend was a woman – that you were so close in the first place, that you felt free to express love and hugs. Friendship between men and women – even a deep friendship, as long as it contains an “innocent intimacy” can be such a good thing. I get annoyed when people are so frightened of it. My husband and I both have good friends of the opposite sex.

    Many blessings on you!

  2. Marko

    As a constant lurker, I was drawn to tell you I love your deep, refreshing words to issues that others would not share on a blog. I too had a chord struck as your story related to a situation I was in with someone. Thanks for allowing God to move you beyond being stuck without a forever friend!

    Kev in Michigan

  3. i’d be lying if i said that i didn’t get a litty misty-eyed while reading that. reminds me of former dear friendship of mine.

  4. this is really really beautiful. (yes, i’m teary). and yes, this -is- God, I think, at God’s best. much much love.

  5. The thing I appreciate most about this story (and your blog in general) is that other people keep ending up the heroes (I would write the female version also but when i do it looks like a drug…lol).

    After hearing your seminar on level 5 leadership last year – I appreciate seeing it in action –

    thanks – J

  6. Marko- There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you for a long time……….and…………….my pants…………I’m sorr……………when you………kissed……….ou…….neck………….

    Dang it my e-mail program doesn’t work so well.


  7. I love you. Thanks for being so vulnerable and honest. It’s so refreshing to read! Your General Session at this past NYWC keeps ringing through my head, “Hi, I’m Marko and I’m an arogant ass…”. As an outside observer (living far away and reading your blog), I feel like I get to keep seeing snapshots of your heart shift and grow as God pushes you. It’s so encouraging in my own walk with Jesus- thanks for being transparent.

    I too struggle with the arrogant ass side of my life & I’m glad you’re my friend. At my core (away from my sarcastic witt and jabby side remarks) is often much of the hurt and fear you mentioned. Sounds like somebody needs a hug. But seriously, thanks dude.


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