So I’ve been waiting. For a few days now. I found out I hurt someone and I apologized. I’m not getting a response. Just silence.
The things that go through your mind when a relationship is broken, and you’re trying to fix it, can be all-consuming. You wonder if they even got your message at all. Wondering if you should try again, push the issue. Then you spend some of the time wondering why you did what you did and berating yourself for it. Then get angry at them for not responding, muttering things like, “Well, that’s not very Christ-like of them. What about Matthew 6:15?” and “They are being so immature right now. What else could I do? I can’t undo it, I can only make restitution.” (Restitution? Yeah, you can tell I’ve been spending a lot of time in the Old Testament lately.)
Yep. So far, right on course for the Kübler-Ross model.
Then you start to wonder if the apology was even necessary. That maybe you really didn’t hurt them all that much and you are making a way bigger deal out of it than needs to be. Maybe that’s why they haven’t responded.
Yep… right on to stage 4.
Then you start to feel a little hollow inside because they aren’t responding to you, forgiving you, having the hard conversation with you. You shake your head as you walk across a parking lot, a rare moment alone with no work to do, the moments in which your mind wanders to what matters most.
What are we to do when you ask someone, “Will you forgive me?” and there is no response? How do we live in the reality of that, without closure, unsure of what the other person is thinking and feeling?
Are they done with me? Have they cut me out of their life? Have they decided I’m too much work? Are they dealing with their own sin issues, too, and are afraid to confront them?
Do you keep trying… hounding… not accepting the silence? Or do you just let it be?
Maybe the better question, rather than “what do we do when there is not response?” is this: “What I am supposed to feel when there is no response?”
Is it ok to want to quote Ephesians 4:32 (in a scream) off into the void, directed at them? Is it ok to cry? Is it ok to just forget about it? Is it ok to be angry or sad or hurt? Is it ok that all your feelings are directed towards them because they aren’t responding and aren’t forgiving, rather than looking at your own sin in the situation?
A good friend once told me that asking “Will you forgive me?” is a lot harder than simply saying, “I’m sorry.” Remorse and admitting sin are two different things, she said.
That’s why I very intentionally, in my apology to my friend, said both “I’m sorry.” and “Will you forgive me?” I am sorry I hurt them. I also sorry for my sin. It’s much easier to be remorseful for hurting someone or remorseful for the result… or even being remorseful for the sin. But admitting the sin and the need for forgiveness because you sinned? That’s weightier. Heavier. It puts the full powerful of culpability on you.
I hope they forgive me, but it’s perfectly within their right to refuse to do so. To even cut me out of their life. It may not be right, but it is their right.
It’s only been a few days (Five days, not that I’m counting.). We’ve had no contact since my apology, and we usually text every day. Part of me is waiting for the other shoe to drop, because I have the expectation of not being forgiven, of being cut out of their life, and that will cause me grief. Not because I screwed up and hurt someone who means something to me, though that is certainly something to grieve over. But the grief will also be in the loss of our friendship, something that has come to mean a great deal to me over the years.
It can be far too easy to let a friend drift out of your life when they don’t live near you and you very rarely see them. But when it’s intentional – because of a hurt – that is far more painful. If you are the cause of the hurt, you live with the regret.
This friend has said me before, in reference to two mutual friends who also had a broken friendship, “If they can’t have the hard conversations, was the friendship ever that strong to begin with?”
Yes, this is the final glass that shattered for me today. To him, we were never that strong to begin with, or he would have forgiven me. Right?