I felt the clamminess of my palms as I rang her doorbell. She and I had been friends years ago, but the choices I had made now separated us. Would she entertain rekindling a relationship with me again?
I went to her house to tell her I was sorry for doing the things I had done—that I hoped she could forgive me for all my foolishness and sinful behavior. I wanted to tell her I realized I hadn’t taken into consideration how others would be affected by my actions. That I had made a real mess of things—my life. I wanted to say I was sorry.
I wanted to tell her there was good news! I had learned from my mistakes. I had turned the corner. I was on the way to becoming the person God intended me to be. I had hoped she’d be happy for me. I thought she’d celebrate a Prodigal Daughter finding her way back home.
That’s what I thought. But I was wrong.
When she opened the door, her eyes gave her away–first of unrecognition, then of remembrance. I saw it flash across her face as she remembered me. Then came the frozen smile. The smile reserved for those we have to be kind to but would prefer not to know. Her lips smiled while her eyes shot daggers at me. She stepped outside, not letting me into her house.
“Hi, it’s been a long time? How are you?” I asked, trying to warm the coolness between us.
“Good. Good.” Then with a polite, hushed voice, “You look good.”
I asked about her family. Her brothers and sisters. Her children and husband. I knew them all. I had laughed over dinner with each one of them. I had tucked her children to bed at night. We had been like sisters. Once.
“Good, good. We’re all good here.”
“I came to tell you I’m sorry. I made a mess of things years ago. I did things that set into motion consequences I didn’t understand. I hurt you. Can you forgive me? I’d like to make things right between us again. Could you see your way to giving me a second chance?”
There it was. I had exposed my emotional underbelly. I felt my chest tightening. Every fiber in me wanted to hear that she’d let me earn her trust back. That’s when it happened: she blinked and looked down.
“Don’t be silly, we’re good. I’m sorry, but I have … something to do. I have to go.”
“Maybe we can have coffee sometime?” I needed time to follow-up, tell her about how I had changed. I had given my life to Christ and was a new creature. I wanted to see her smile again.
“Oh, I don’t know,” she purred.” My days are pretty full. But it was good to see you. Yeah, it was … good. Take care of yourself. I’ll give you a call sometime.”
With that, she backed into her house, closed and locked the door behind her.
Sometimes situations don’t go as planned. You follow your script. You offer repentance—true repentance—and even ask for suggestions on how to re-build trust. You open up. You become vulnerable and transparent. And the door still closes in your face. You experience Christian invisibility—when you’re told things are good, but clearly they aren’t.
Painful—yes. Not what you expect—yes. All lost—absolutely not!
Forgiveness is for the person forgiving as much as the person forgiven, and so are the effects of making amends. You may walk up to a door as I did and suffer the same shame and heartbreak, but the amend did not go unnoticed. Apostle Paul tells us how to live like Christ designed in Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” As far as it depends on you. Those words carry power and freedom.
You may get shut out of lives because of choices you made in the past, but please remember those sins were covered by Jesus’ blood when he died for our sins.
When you walk up to a door, know your audience includes Christ Jesus himself! He saw you. He felt your conviction and broken spirit when you offered to make the relationship right again. He saw making amends to your past friend wasn’t enough for them—but it was enough for Him.
When making amends doesn’t seem to be enough, focus on whose opinion counts the most. Focus on Christ. And if you do not know Christ, oh, friend, please ask to know him right now. Your heart will forever be changed.