I was racking my brain for happy thoughts this morning as part of my determination to focus on the beautiful side of life when I found myself thinking about my friends… At the top of my list was my Bes, then my sister, then my cousin. I stopped. My cousin and I haven’t talked at all for years and it’s not just the distance and busy issue. True, we’re both moms now and equally occupied with many things, but there’s a deeper reason for the cold silence.
My cousin and I have been friends since we were just 7 and 8 (she’s the younger one). Every summer vacation, she’d stay over at our house with her younger sister, and for a whole month or so we were stuck together in everything that we do. Our families used to say that when we’re together, all they ever hear from us were giggles. It’s like we’re sharing a private joke and all we have to do is look at each other and then we’d burst into uncontrollable laughter. I have to admit, they made my summer vacations enjoyable. When we were about 14 or 15, my cousin and I were at the peak of our friendship. We don’t see each other very often because we live a good distance apart. Besides, we’re both busy with school. Nevertheless, we knew each other like the back of our hands. Every day, we’d take turns writing letters which we sent through the Shoe Repair Shop, where our aunt (who was living with us then), and our uncle (who was living near my cousins), work. Oh, the mischiefs of little girls. We shared endless stories about our crushes, enthusiasm over Spice Girls, folly about Ghost Fighter, the new songs we like, new music videos. I know it still makes me happy thinking about those days.
When we got older though (I was 22), something happened that changed our relationship forever. Her sister was over at our house, and in dire desire to help them mend a serious sibling quarrel, I asked her to come over too, minus the bf (which was her sister’s request). I don’t remember anymore whether she did come over or not. But later on, some news came to me that she hated me for this message forever. Mixed thoughts filled my mind. First was, now I’m figuring this out. Before the news came out, I had a feeling that she dislike me but was clueless why. Second was, hey, that was not even my idea! But it didn’t matter. I just accepted the situation like it’s nothing. I didn’t realize that our places in each other’s hearts could be replaced by boys that soon. So soon.
Now I could accept the cold war and live peacefully with it, especially because I know I’m innocent but I have to admit, I was angry. Perhaps, my only fault was that I have no control on how people view and react on things. There was no point telling her either that what made her mad was her sister’s idea. I mean, they were okay already, which was our goal in the first place. So the friends who used to share laughter without cause became strangers.
I didn’t know the extent of her anger though. I thought that when I said sorry, it was just as she said. It’s okay, it’s nothing. But grudge is such an ugly powerful feeling. When I was at the pit during the darkest era of my life, she struck.
Words. Painful words that she must have made a point of reaching me through other people (in the form of gossip). She used all those to bury me in the depths I was already in. The most extreme slap in my face though, was when she invited everyone from our household, down to the youngest member, except me, on her wedding day. And you know what? She won. My own family chose her over me.
Even when I had retreated and lived with my aunt in a faraway province, gossips still kept reaching me. I wanted to fight, to get even, to get revenge. My father gave me the only help he could give because I was so faraway. Words.
Don’t push your enemy too hard against the wall or he might have no choice but to fight back. My reception was the other way around though. Wasn’t I the one down in the dumps and now I’m fighting back? Give others their freedom to their opinion. But the power to prove their opinion wrong or right is yours. Right. As I see it that way, he’s right. This is a free country. But her opinion was not the authority on things either. What she says is NOT a law. So I let go.
During those hardest parts of my life though, revenge helped me get up. Yes. Depression has a way of bringing out the evil in me. I was looking forward to getting up so I could take my turn in stepping upon her. I no longer saw the friend I once had in her. All I can see was betrayal, pain. An enemy.
But because I was nursing a life inside me, I didn’t want to be all submissive to evil. I remembered a verse that I used to take for granted before:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
I never realized the weight of this commandment until I was faced with my own enemy. In my opinion, my cousin was the worst enemy I ever had. To have your best friend become an enemy is one of the most painful thing a person could experience because the betrayal is just so much and unexpected. Only then did I realize the difficulty of following this commandment. Believe me, it’s such a tremendous struggle of the good trying to live as a Christian and the evil who wanted nothing but revenge.
Finally, I stumbled upon this “words of wisdom” one day:
“Good things happen to bad people to make them good. Bad things happen to good people to make them cautious, capable of long suffering, thus not only making them good but excellent. – EFS”
Thank God. Deep inside me, the part I’m trying to suppress because of all the depression, there was this persistent voice that commands me to be the good person. Realizing that the experience of such miserable things doesn’t mean that I was a super bad person being punished, I completely gave up the fight for revenge.
When your trusted friend become your enemy, it’s really difficult. If there is a word that’s 100x worse than difficult, then that’s how I describe it. Even after I was able to spring back to light, forgiving was a difficult thing, much more, loving your enemy.
I’m thankful to God that after 6 years, I’m entirely sure that I have forgiven. Moreover, I think I’m ready to learn about “loving your enemy”. I thought that forgiveness was the most I could give. But I realized, that after everything that happened, I still counted her as my friend. And while I was thinking back about those times when my cousin and I were best friends, I was smiling. Thank God for lending me those 6 years of life, for giving me all the time to heal, forgive, and finally… love.