What to do when people let you down

What if I told you that someone important in your life is going to let you down? Probably not much of a surprise. But what if I told you that person would let you down time and again, and even sometimes when you needed them most? How would you handle it? Would your world crash in around you or would you be able to overcome the hurt?

At the time my divorce was going on, someone close to me let me down. It was someone that should’ve been by my side but chose not to be. It was someone who once held my trust and admiration but decided to shred it into tiny pieces. I was heartbroken, disappointed, and angry. The discovery of who I could and couldn’t depend on during the most difficult time of my life pushed me off the ledge. How could I ever forgive this person? Would I ever be able to be in the same room with them ever again? The blackhole of resentment and bitterness had me in its gravitational pull and I didn’t mind one bit. 

But darkness only feels good for so long. I came to realize how much I was hurting myself by harboring these feelings. Author Anne Lamott says “Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” Her description of hanging on to hurt most definitely fit me. It was eating me alive and I needed some reconciliation. But at the time, complete reconciliation was not an option because the line of communication had been cut off by both of us. Despite the state of our relationship, I came to realize I had to let go of the hurt and forgive as much as I could on my own. So I did. I laid it down before God in prayer daily for quite a while. Sometimes I picked it back up and carried it. But the more I continued to lay it down, it gradually became easier to leave it there.

Have you had an experience where someone important to you broke your heart? Have you let it go and forgiven them? Or are you sipping on rat poison waiting for them to die? (figuratively speaking of course) I believe there are some crucial steps we must take anytime someone let’s us down. If we don’t, we run the risk of becoming so bitter and miserable we will not be able to enjoy relationships again.

Forgive and forgive again. Let it go, lay it down, and stop picking it back up. I had to come to a place where I forgave regardless of whether or not I ever heard the words “I’m sorry”. I had days where I needed to ask God to help me forgive this person. I realized I was incapable of forgiving on my own power. I needed someone to take the rat poison out of my hand and the only one I discovered capable to do so was God. Once I loosened my grip, He led me to a point of forgiveness in my heart so I could be free.

Keep in mind they may not have all of the facts. When reconciliation did finally come in the relationship months later, this person learned the whole story about what happened to me. Filling in the whole story made them realize they made a snap judgment which led them to judge me. We feel like others intuitively know what’s going on in our lives or should at least take the initiative to ask. But most of the time it doesn’t work that way. 

If at all possible, reconcile with them. For complete healing and forgiveness to happen, both sides have to come together. Many times, this idea of reconciliation is unrealistic because one side is unwilling to swallow their pride. But once you’ve forgiven them internally, it is crucial to pursue harmony and understanding. Audibly saying “I forgive you” to an offender can be freeing. 

My story didn’t end with unresolved tension. One day I received a letter in the mail acknowledging their misjudgment and asking me to forgive them. I remember laying the unopened envelope on my nightstand and leaving it there for a few days. I was torn as to whether I wanted to open it or not. Eventually I relented because I valued the relationship with this person more than my pride. As I read and re-read the letter, I could feel the hurt and pain caused by this person start to melt away. Weeks later, we were able to meet up face-to-face and talk it out. Saying “I forgive you” was like a wrecking ball blowing the wall between us to smithereens. And today, we are able to enjoy a great relationship with no awkwardness or tension.

What relationship in your life has unresolved conflict? Do you want to reconcile? If so, how can these three simple steps enable you to seek reconciliation? 

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