I received an email from an old friend this past week.
It was a friend who had walked out of my life many many years ago. As in, met with me after packing up all of his belongings, had a hard conversation with me, and then never looked back.
At the time it hurt.
It was a deep wound that made me question my ability to have normal friendships and wonder where things went awry. It also added to the long list of reasons I don't open myself up to people easily.
Openness = ability to hurt me. Therefore, I will let you in to my life just far enough so you feel like you know me, but in actuality, few know the deep dark places of my soul (and the joys that are also there).
This friend was asking me for forgiveness. Forgiveness for walking out of my life, and forgiveness for not being able to be a good friend to me.
In actuality, I hadn't thought much about this person for awhile. I figured that circumstances made it so we shouldn't be friends anymore, and I had come to accept that.
It made me sad, but I had honestly moved on.
But, when I saw that familiar name in my inbox I stopped and took a deep breath. I wasn't sure if I wanted to open up the email and open up the wounds that I had so carefully put back together. But, I clicked and started reading.
His email made me weep. Not because he was asking me for forgiveness, that in itself was beautiful and freeing. It made me weep because of the purpose he was emailing me.
Apparently someone close to him had told him that the impact of him leaving my life had rippling effects that caused all sorts of problems for me.
I won't go into all of the lies told about me to this person, but basically someone else had caused me a lot of strife and instead of owning up he passed the blame.
All of this was hurt I had dealt with in the past and had moved beyond.
But...because of the false information passed to him, my old friend had struggled with guilt. That guilt has affected his spiritual life. That guilt had made him feel unworthy in other relationships, and like he had no right to be considered a friend. It made him doubt things. And so...I wept. I wept for the harm done to this person in my name.
You see, he's not the first person from my past who has come forward to ask for forgiveness from a certain time period. He's probably the 3rd or 4th.
One name keeps coming up of how they were either used by this person to get information about me or about how they judged me based on false information. (Sorry, I'm not going to go into specific details. Those details are not important).
And so...I have a choice. I once again have to choose to forgive this person for the deep wounds he caused, not only in my life, but in so many other people's lives. Do I choose to forgive? I do. But, how do I deal with this? Do I confront this person who has never come to me to ask for forgiveness? Do I tell him how many people he harmed with choices he made that were (in hindsight) extremely immature? Do I let him know how deeply he has hurt multiple people, while he clearly is unaffected?
In reality, no. I know that there is nothing I can say that will impact him. He will probably go through life, blissfully unaware of the wounds he caused. I'm sure in his mind he did the best he could, given his resources, his lack of support, and what-not. I'm also sure that, given how many years ago this all went down, that in his mind it happened exactly how he said it did.
But, it has made me more aware. It makes me aware of my own words and how powerful they are. Words can hurt people, whether said in jest or spoken to make myself look righteous, when in reality I play a part as well.
It has also made me aware of how deep wounds can go, and how even when I think that I'm "over" something, it simply takes one email to remind me of those hurts. But, it's how I choose to react which is important. So, while I'm sad at the negative impact this person had on so many people, I also had a good giggle at the skewed view people had/have of me.
I think this is a bit disjointed. That's what happens when I try to blog deeply while toddlers climb on me, children whine at me and my husband keeps telling me it's dinner time. :) But, it's what has been rolling around in my brain as of late. Take it for what it is.