I step onto the sandy beach and there in front of me is a woman who used to be a best friend. It's strange to type those words "used to be a best friend". How does that happen? How do the most vibrant relationships in your life wilt in one night? Those who participated in our shunning in 2010-11 are spectres in my memory, danger signs, bright red flags painting our city. I've avoided all the old favorite haunts since 2010 because I didn't want to meet you anywhere. And now here we are, on the same beach for an afternoon. Acting like strangers. There is a gulf between us. An unbridgable gulf. A man-made expanse of uncharted territory between our old love and this new hate.
It is a sign of progress that I can stay on the beach even though you're there. I feel your eyes burning a hole in my back, and here I am talking to one of my real best friends - one of the ones who would never do something like what you've done. She's not a professed Christian, but she's doing a better job at it than you are. Caught in the tension between the old and the new, I cannot deny the joy and power of this moment. I am realizing that you don't offer anything I want now. I've been changed; you haven't. I won't ever long to talk to you again. It rings with finality, this accepting that you are forever gone from my life.
I look out at my children, and I have a message for them: sometimes the friendships you think are important turn out to be just a catalyst for your transformation. You do and always will have true friendships. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference, but you children know more about true and false friends than any child should.
Blood is thicker than water. When you're in desperate need, I guarantee you will pick up the phone to call someone in your family, not a friend. We will be there for you. We will always love you, no matter what.
You will learn more from the relationships of your childhood than at any other time of your life. Love and respect the people who you won't ever be able to get away from. Invest here.
And those few friends we have right now, the ones who feel as close as family? The love and beauty wrought in these strong friendships will never leave you. You will be strengthened by every memory and every time you spend with them from now until you are very old. They remind you that you are worth it. You are worthy of love.
Perhaps that is exactly what I feel on the beach. For the first time, I am acknowledging within myself that I am worthy of faithful friends. I don't deserve to be discarded and beaten down by those who would call themselves "friends". That's not how true friends act. All my life I've held a verse in Proverbs tenderly: Friends can destroy one another, but a loving friend can stick closer than family. (18:24) In church, I've only known the first kind of friend. Outside it's walls, though, I have those friends - 4 in particular who will stick with me no matter what.
I owe it to these - my precious family and friends - to loose the ties to yesterday and live in this moment with them. Accept it from the hand of God. Yes, He allowed the destruction of many friendships very recently, but He has also provided me a faithful few whose love is so strong it has held me up when my own two legs couldn't. These - the hands and feet of Jesus in my life - are worth forgetting the pain for.
What didn't kill me has made me stronger. And now I must accept life - participate in it, find joy in it, mine for the gold every day. Because if I am still breathing, it must be right for me to be alive.
Radical acceptance equals giving up your hope for a better past for the hope of a better future.