“Hello,’ she answered the phone. My heart skipped a beat at the sound of her voice. It felt like my chest was compressed and it was difficult to breathe.
“Hey, this is Norma.” I forced out of my mouth.
Her cheery voice welcomed my call. “How are you doing?” she asked. I’m sure I responded with fine, but I was not fine. I was dying. She had no idea what I was about to drop on her. My heart raced as I listened to her talk.
My negative shaming thoughts took over….I wanted more than anything to run. I wanted to pretend like I was just calling because I was a nice, concerned friend that hadn’t been in contact with her recently. The truth was that I wasn’t any of those things. I was not nice, I was not caring. People who have those traits don’t do what I had done.
She was talking on the other end of the line, but I didn’t hear what she was saying, I was lost in my own thoughts, my awareness and senses were gone.
Dropping the bomb
Something brought me back to the present. “I need to tell you something,” I said. My courage in calling her was leaving me and I knew if I didn’t tell her fast ….fear would tie my tongue.
I could hear the question in her voice at my urgency. As quickly as I could… I explained to her my suffering. I told her that her husband had been trying to help me connect with my husband and that his advice had been working. She seemed pleased. I told her that there was more.
I don’t remember the words that I used. All I know is that my heart was breaking as I told her what I had done with her husband. She listened intently to every word and remained calm the entire time.
I kept waiting for her to yell at me. For her to tell me how horrible I was. I was bad! I had hurt her, and I loved her. The other end of the line went quiet. I was waiting for her to say something….anything. How could I have hurt so many people? What was wrong with me?
I felt relief when I heard her voice again. It was sweet and calm. She asked me a few questions that I answered with complete honestly.
Then the most beautiful thing happened. She saw me! I did not feel anger or hate from her, she was seeking to understand. I felt like she still cared for me. I will never forget that moment. I was expecting anger, I got understanding. I was expecting hate, I received compassion.
She forgave me! Never in my life had I experienced such grace. She taught me what forgiveness was by example. She knew that the intent of my heart was not bad. She gave me permission to be kind and caring and human, despite what I had done.
I felt like I deserved to be shunned and hated, I didn’t deserve the response that I got, yet it was the gift she gave me anyways.
Small ounce of the atonement
I don’t know what it will feel like to stand before God one day and have to own all of my sins. What I do know is that on this day, she showed my a tiny bit of what it might feel like. I stood before her with a broken heart. I was suffering for what I had done. My inner voice was already my worst enemy and it was tearing me apart.
I think that when we stand before God if we are truly sorry and we have done all that we can to make ammends that he will do exactly what my friend did. He will forgive us. We will know that we can never repay the debt and our gratitude will be deep and real.
I am still friends today with this amazing woman. I will never forget what she did for me on the winter day in 2007. We don’t talk as much as we once did, but each and every time we do I remember what she did for me. There is no resentment and no grudge towards me. When we talk the converstaion is deep and real and valuable. Each time I feel fed and I am so thankful for her. I am not sure that if the roles had been switched that I would have handled it as beautifully.
Seeing myself in a new light
My friend forgave me long before I was able to forgive myself. She paved a way for me and the time did come when I was able to hand this to God and let it go. I am now able to look at myslef with new eyes. I have been able to disect the story and I have been able to find my truth. I can honestly say that I never meant to hurt anyone. I had a deep need that was not being met and I made irrational decisions becasue of my pain. I am not bad! I am kind! Caring! Loving! AND HUMAN.