A few weeks ago I posted about a friend I offended. Recently, she and I had an honest talk and buried the proverbial hatchet. During the conversation, she admitted that one of her standard responses to conflict was to just cut the person off completely. She had considered such a response to our situation, but thankfully felt sadness at the idea of us not talking again. This got me thinking. When should you cut somebody off and when should you graciously forgive?
I keep a very tight-knit coven comprised of a select group. You are either in or you are out. I do not take shit. But I am forgiving. I’ve had friends drift in and out of the circle over the years. When someone approaches me with sincere contrition, my compassion won’t let me hold a grudge. Most friendship offenses I can forgive and forget. There are major exceptions to this rule. Betrayal breaks us. Publicly embarrass me more than once and you’re out. I can’t with the raging Narcissists anymore. If you’re a bigot, a liar, a thief, or suffer some other sort of basic fundamental character flaw than you would never make it into my inner-circle anyway. The lengthy application process and a number of time-honored tests weed out the weak and unworthy.Almost everything else, I eventually let go. Small infractions, petty grievances, thoughtless comments, who among us isn’t guilty of saying or doing something stupid? Major life events like death, divorce, and disease deserve MAJOR friendship leeway. Empathy looks good on everyone. I offer my friends the same grace I wish to receive in response to my less graceful moments. I rely on them to steer me straight when I veer off course.
In my humble experience (which includes relationships that span 25+ years), the friendships that last are the ones that are allowed to morph, change, and grow with the people involved. Over a lifetime, friendships may include periods of great intimacy or estrangement, but true pals are always welcomed back into the fold.