Sally* was a friend from my home church. We had lost touch over the years, but when my mother died, we started corresponding again after she sent me an encouraging sympathy card. Through the years our friendship grew. We occasionally visited each other’s homes, as we lived states apart.

When my father became feeble, the siblings—none of whom were now living in our hometown—decided he should be moved into an assisted living facility near where he had grown up. Sally lived nearby. She would sporadically check in on Dad and we would chat.

Since she drove past the assisted living facility on her way to work, I occasionally—probably twice a year—would pay for and ask her to pick up something for Dad. They knew each other from church and I thought a visit from a familiar face would be good for his courage. She always said, “Sure, not a problem.” I thanked her and asked about the visits. She lifted his spirits and he hers, she would say.

Life gets messy

However, not long ago, things took a nosedive when I received a confusing email from her. I couldn’t figure out what it was about. I had to re-read it three or four times. Then I realized it wasn’t meant for me. She had intended to send it to someone else. In the email, she said what a twit I was. “All these years I have helped out and delivered things to her dad, she has never paid me for my time and now she wants me to pick up something again.”

At first I was confused, then I became angry and finally, I realized I was really hurt she would call me a “twit.” It took some time but later I replied, “Was this email meant for me? Are we still friends?”

I decided I needed to compensate her for her efforts, explaining how sorry I was for the times I asked for her help: “Please accept this gift card as a thank you for the visits you have made to Dad. I will be making other arrangements from now on.”

She returned the card to me writing, “I don’t need to be reimbursed; that’s what friends are for.” I debated—friends?

Forgiveness is a gift

Through prayer and the counsel of friends, I decided to continue my friendship with Sally. I prayed for God to heal this situation and He mostly has. We still correspond but things are not the same.

Our paths have crossed as I have flown home to visit my father but we have never mentioned the unfortunate incident. I believe I expected too much from our friendship. I am just so grateful for forgiveness and the attitude of forgiveness. Both are gifts from God.

*not her real name

As told to Jacquie Biloff.