A few months ago, my husband and I were having lunch after church in my hometown. Within a few minutes of getting our meal, my best friend from high school and her family walked in the door of the restaurant.
My heart stopped.
Now, you have to know that just after high school, my best friend and I had a falling out. I hadn’t been a good friend and she was tired of dragging me along. We said awful things to one another and even though I tried, she ignored my phone calls and apology letters.
I prayed God would have us bump into each other and we’d have this reconciliation and be friends again, but it never happened like that. Instead, when we finally found ourselves in the same room some six years later, I felt the weight of my failure as a friend sink into my chest. It was a familiar feeling.
And because I was too scared to move from my chair, I simply managed a half-smile and waved— an offering of peace.
She glared in my direction.
I watched her exchange whispers with her family and they walked out of the restaurant before ordering or eating.
It stings to remember that. It hurts to realize that this entire family couldn’t be in the same room with me. I batted back my failure again at the thought, but it was stronger than I could manage.
Someone hates you.
You’re not worthy of friendship.
The words pounded inside my head again, just like they had years ago. I cried in the car when my husband and I left the restaurant. I couldn’t believe after all these years, nothing had changed.
But something had changed.
It was me.
I was a wreck as a teenager and I spent high school clinging to the coattails of my best friend’s popularity. I was a nobody hanging onto a somebody who I thought would give me something better. I loved that people knew my name in the hallways and that I spent more time in her family’s custom-built, two-story house than in my own home. I loved that of all the people, she picked me as her friend.
After high school, we went to separate colleges and she easily made new friends, while I struggled to adapt to the large university I was attending. Then one day, while I was on the bus to class, I dialed her number and her voicemail didn’t pick up. In its place, an annoying buzz and message that the number was not in service.
And all this isn’t easy for me to remember because I buried those memories away and I left that bridge to smolder
and turn to ash, and I’ve done so because of a change in me. Oh, I’m still a wreck. I’m still learning about friendship, but I’m not mourning that bridge anymore.
Looking back, it was built on all the wrong things— selfishness, popularity, recklessness, and over the years, God has led me into friendships that instead are meaningful.
I know the fight to put out the flames of a burning bridge, of a lost friendship, and if you’re there too, my prayer is that you’ll be able to let it burn and let it go.