by Lorena Estep
“The wounds of a friend are trustworthy, but the kisses of an enemy are excessive”
For years, my childhood friend and I had discussed taking a trip together. Since we had both recently retired and had more free time, we began to make our plans a reality. But then she informed me over the phone that she was going to go with someone else. She tacked on the news at the end of the conversation as a sort of, “Oh, by the way.” It was such a verbal slap in the face, all I could do was speak a few more half-civil words and say good-bye.
Stunned, I sat staring into space. How could such a close friend hurt me so blatantly, as though my feelings mattered very little? The remainder of the evening my emotions alternated between tears of pain, deep anger, and resentment.
I checked three translations of Proverbs 27:6. All three made wounds from a friend sound preferable to kisses from an enemy. I wanted to believe this was a misinterpretation, but since it was God’s Word, I had to consider this verse to be true. I decided my friend had crossed over to the enemy camp, and I determined to no longer have anything personal to do with her.
Turning to the Lord in my pain, I sensed He didn’t agree with my reasoning, for He immediately began His work in me. My morning devotional reading spoke of sweetening bitter feelings through the Lord and His Word. “OK, Lord, I know You don’t want me to live my life harboring bitterness. Please lead me in getting over my anger, and teach me to forgive.”
Scenarios of how to deal with the situation circled in my head. Then I read a meditation on Matthew 18:15: “If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother.” The meditation pointed out even Christians tend to avoid someone who has hurt them instead of bringing it into the open.
That’s me, I thought. That’s exactly how I want to treat her. “But Lord, I know that’s not Your way. I know I’m to use Your Word to sweeten my bitter heart and talk to my friend about how I feel. Easier said than done, Lord!”
On the seventh day, the devotional message was on forgiveness. Colossians 3:13 states: “Accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.”
I knew I had no choice if I was to be obedient to God. “Lord, I’m willing to do what You want, but I don’t have the nerve to contact her. Please bring about the contact, then give me the courage and the words to speak.”
A breakfast date was scheduled with her and three other women the next morning, but I wasn’t going if we hadn’t settled the situation.
The Lord put His plan into action. I woke up to eight inches of new snow and more falling. I knew breakfast would be cancelled, and she would be the one to call me. When the phone rang, I prayed, “Lord, if this is her, please give me words.”
“Well, this is some weather, isn’t it?” she began. “I guess it means breakfast is off.”
“I’m sure it is,” I replied. Before I lost my nerve, I blurted, “But I need to talk with you about our problem.” I told her what a blow it had been, how hurt and bitter I had felt, and how the Lord had given me the desire and courage to talk about it.
My friend apologized and explained why she had done it, knowing it would hurt me. Due to certain circumstances, she didn’t have any other choice and she had agonized over it. “My stomach hurt this morning just thinking about calling you. I’m glad you had the courage to talk about it openly and honestly with me,” she said.
By the time we hung up, I felt totally freed from anger and bitterness. A large weight had been removed from both our hearts. The circumstances hadn’t changed, but the trip had taken second place to restoring our friendship. I now understand how wounds from a true friend are far better than kisses from an enemy.
Lorena Estep writes from the mountains of Pennsylvania. She has written two Christian fiction novels, Out of the Mist and He Rode a Palomino, as well as a children’s book, Puddles on the Floor.
This article originally appeared in the August, 2011 issue of Mature Living. To subscribe click here or on the magazine cover.