A little while ago, I got back in touch with someone I lived with on my mission. He and I hadn’t talked since he left the morning he went home, and I got transferred to my next city. I don’t know that it was on purpose that we hadn’t spoken in years, but if it were, I certainly would not have blamed him.
We weren’t exactly best friends when we were together. We were both kind of lazy. I was kind of arrogant, and generally treated him poorly. He on the other hand tried very hard to be my friend. The thing that stuck out to me more than anything was that he bought me a comic book. well, number two in the series. It wasn’t cheap. (not thousands of dollars expensive, but more than a nice meal expensive.) In spite of his efforts, I still treated him poorly. In fact, when he asked for my email address to keep in touch, I gave him one that I rarely checked.
Over the years I felt bad about how I treated him. He’s not the only companion to whom I have since apologized. (I had a lot of companions, and got along with very few of them.) I tried to track him down a few times, but was unsuccessful. (OK, I tried to find him on the internet. If I had been really determined, I could probably found him through his parents, since I probably have a file somewhere with home addresses…) It was only recently that he showed up on facebook. When we talked, I told him about my situation, and asked if he would give me his thoughts on the blog. He read My Best Friend’s Help and left a comment. I thought it might be helpful to see the reaction that someone had, even after I had treated him with disdain, and then had no contact to apologize for years. I wanted it to have more chance of being read than if it was just a comment, so I’m re-posting it here.
“You know I’ve thought long and hard about what I wanted to say here. I thought about my past. I thought about those whom I’ve known who made decisions to go down paths I would not have chosen for myself. I even thought of a friend my wife had for years. He was the only man from her High School I wouldn’t have minded hanging out with. He was an outstanding individual. Amazing talent, and impressive intellect were his pronounced attributes. Then one day he decided to take a road that caused me to retract my previous decision, but rather than lash out in anger or hatred I simply asked if he was sure that this was the road he was sure he wanted to take. His response vexed me horribly when he asked, “What other road is there for me to take?” Being rhetorical I needed not answer. It pained me horribly to know how this man had been blessed so much. He had the opportunity to serve our Lord on a full mission, only to return home and fall. When I received a call from a friend who informed me he too had taken the same road, my heart sank. But then he said something I only prayed I could hear. He told me he had decided it was either this road he was to continue to follow, or the straight and narrow path the Lord had placed at this intersection in his life. Having chosen that the gospel was indeed true, he was removing himself from the road he had chosen. My soul cried for joy when I heard this, and through him, I realized my wife’s friend too had a chance to find his way back to the gospel. As my friend and I spoke further I knew what he was saying, he meant with all his heart. He apologized to me for any inconveniences he may have caused for me in my past, and for the way he had acted towards me during part of it as well. I had already forgiven him, but to hear the words from him showed me he was putting forth an effort that only God has the magnitude to properly cry forth cheers of joy for. I too cheer him on in his efforts to better himself, and at the same time I pray that God will see him fit for all the blessings heaven can pour forth unto him. God be with you my friend and brother. We are here for you, to support you in your choice, and remember we are cheering for you.”
Of course, I would note that there is no point at which there is not an exit from the roads we choose back onto the straight and narrow. I’m sure my friend did not mean that the intersection was only at this point in my life, but rather that I had chosen at this point to take the exit. I would also note that I didn’t choose that the church was true, but rather chose to acknowledge what that meant. If the church is true, I could not continue down the other path. Neither of these things change the kindness of my friend’s comments, they just serve to clarify a couple things.
I don’t imagine that I am the only one that has hurt someone in the course of their lives. I’ll be writing about a number of other people whom I’ve hurt, either unintentionally, or with malicious intent. Thing is, I can’t think of one who has not forgiven me, and that’s the part I find amazing.