Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Mature or Immature?

Someone from my past has resurfaced. We were friends many, many years ago. We parted on terrible terms. Her actions at the time stunned me, and what I felt was betrayal was my last memory of her.

Fast forward to present day. We reconnect via email, but only through other friends. She emails me a "hey, how are you?" note, and I ignore it. Weeks pass and there is no more direct contact. Finally, I send her an email explaining how angry and hurt I am, and I ask for an explanation and an apology. I get it. She apologizes completely, without spin or excuse. She takes responsibility for what she said, is truly sorry for it, and hopes I can forgive her. And just like that, I do.

I am surprised by a couple of things. One, I really wasn't expecting an apology. My email to her was more a personal thing, a chance to finally tell her how hurt I was. It was sent without expectation. So her immediate and heartfelt apology surprised me. The other surprise was how quickly I was able to forgive her and let it go. And not just in a "forgive her, but still harbor resentment" way. I mean in an "honest, feel better inside, glad to be able to finally let all of this negative emotion go" sort of way.

I know this whole thing says something about me, but I am not sure which way to go with it. On one hand, I feel very mature. I communicated honestly, explaining how I felt. When she apologized, I accepted it. Period. On the other hand, I have to wonder... did I really need the apology to let it go? Or was this just one more situation where I needed to be right? If I was truly ready to just let it go, why did I need her to say anything?

So, it could be either/or. I think it's a sign of maturity on my part. And not just because I accepted her apology. I think the maturity is more demonstrated by my realization that, given different circumstances, I could very easily have been the person doing the mean, hateful thing. More than that, I have been guilty of comparable betrayals. I have been the one in the wrong. Accepting her apology is a way of forgiving myself, too.

I know this does not absolve me of my own wrongdoing. I have tried to make amends to those I have wronged in the past, but there will always be mistakes and atonement for me. All I can do is try to be better today - to myself and to others - than I was yesterday.

So, yes, my vote is that this situation is a sign of maturity... for her and for myself.

And I was going to end this entry with one of those touchy-feely quotes about forgiveness, but this one from Emo Phillips made me laugh out loud. I decided it was as good as any other.
When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realized that the Lord doesn't work that way. So I stole one and asked Him to forgive me.
- Emo Phillips