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