Is that who I think it is? I glanced discreetly at the young woman in front of me in the check-out line, paying for her groceries. It had been at least 15 years since I’d seen her. But I’d recognize that thick, glossy hair and tall slender frame anywhere. It had to be Sarah.
Sarah and I were best friends in fifth and sixth grade. We spent lots of time at each other’s houses – playing playing board games on the living room floor, making veggie pizzas, or giggling at sleepovers.
When my family moved to Central America for a year in seventh grade, I promised Sarah I’d write. But I was adjusting to life in a new country and trying to make friends in my new school, and I didn’t really keep in touch. After we moved back to the US at the end of that year, I tried to contact Sarah a few times, but she was hurt, and she didn’t want to see me.
Willing to Reconcile
The years passed, and I went to college, then graduate school, then became a teacher. Every once in awhile, I thought of Sarah and felt a pang of regret that I hadn’t re-connected with her. But now here she was, right in front of me in the supermarket! I couldn’t believe it!
“Excuse me – Sarah?” The woman turned slowly to look at me. “It’s Michelle!” I beamed. “Remember me?”
“I remember you,” Sarah said flatly. There was a chill in her voice that surprised me.
Brushing aside her strange reaction, I tried to keep my voice cheerful. “It’s so good to see you! How have you been?”
“I’m fine.” She seemed irritated at my attempts to make conversation. “I have to go.” Abruptly she picked up her bags and walked away.
I was stunned and couldn’t figure out what I had done to offend her. Was she still upset at me for not writing to her in seventh grade? The scene replayed itself over and over in my head for days.
“If it is possible,” the apostle Paul writes in Romans 12:18, “as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” The peacekeeper and people-pleaser in me want to ensure that everyone will always be happy with me. But that’s not always possible.
When Peace Isn’t Possible
Sarah’s cold dismissal when I tried to renew our friendship hurt deeply. But her response was out of my control. It takes three to reconcile a broken relationship – me, the other person, and God. God is always willing to reconcile people to Himself and to each other. And I was willing to reconcile. But Sarah was not.
All I could do was forgive Sarah for snubbing me, even though it was painful. I decided to “not repay evil with evil” (I Peter 3:9) but to just love her and continue to do whatever I can to pursue peace. I’m leaving the results up to Him. Because when my heart is clear before God, peace is always possible.