Where Friendship Once Was
By: Jessica Chung
I thought moving away for college and “living my best life” was what healing looked like. However, I knew that the heartache from losing one of my best friends since grade school hadn’t gone anywhere, when I saw pictures of her happily doing things she loved with a mutual friend. I was resentful. Grief-stricken. Confused.
My friend and I met in fourth grade. She quickly became one of my best friends, someone I confided in about family, crushes, and faith. We made codenames for our crushes and let each other be our full and strange selves. I would daydream about my future wedding to whoever I was infatuated with at the time and knew that I would have my friend be one of my bridesmaids.
Fast-forward to our junior year of high school, and everything changed. Our friendship fell apart. Each of us was juggling different things - family issues, relationships, school, extra curriculars, health problems - and our friendship began to diminish and die out. We didn’t communicate with each other well, and I think we took the phrase “best friends forever” for granted. Eventually, I became cold and bitter toward her. I felt betrayed by the things I perceived her to be doing. I couldn’t fathom why someone who loved me and knew my previous hurts would leave too.
We didn’t talk for four years. I saw the aforementioned picture posted by our mutual friend, and every bit of bitterness, resentment, and anger welled up again. I hated every one of those feelings. I wanted to be happy for my former friend. God made it abundantly clear to me in the following weeks that I needed to forgive her. And I wanted to forgive her, but my heart kept pointing to the brokenness where love once was and saying, “How can I forgive that?”
Every day I would hurl this at the Lord’s feet, remembering that I once believed that forgiveness was not a one and done deal, that I would need to choose forgiveness every day until I truly meant she was forgiven. The resentment would not subside, though. Then, God gently reminded me to examine the ways I hurt my friend and contributed to our falling out. I wasn’t a supportive friend to her. I expected her to be as omniscient as God in knowing or asking about my life and my pain. I, too, was to blame for the bridge we had built and burnt.
I sent her a direct message over Instagram not long after receiving this conviction. I apologized for my immaturity and the ways I knew I hurt her. I wished her well. I did not expect her to respond, and I concluded that I would be okay if she never did. I said what I needed to and that would have to be enough. I forgave her in my heart and was at peace. However, to my surprise, she did reply. She, too, apologized for things she had done and expressed the peace and gratitude she was feeling because we brought these hurts into the light.
She lives in another country now. She and I text about our lives as well as share pictures of beautiful houses, old memories, and poems. Being her friend again is familiar yet different. I feel like I recovered a part of my life that I had lost for four years. I feel blessed to have been given the chance to love and be loved by someone who has known me for so long. The bridge we remade is sturdier, built on forgiveness and grace, and I’m glad I don’t have to do life without my friend anymore.