A few years ago I had a falling out with someone. We weren't good friends, but we had worked together on some ministry projects. She led most of the projects and I enjoyed working with her. But then I led a project, and she was unhappy with the results. When she told me just how unhappy she was, I was shocked. We shared harsh words. And we've never related in the same way since.
I replayed the situation over and over in my mind. At first anger would well up within me. Then disgust. Then I started to doubt the good interactions we'd had and the advice she'd given me from time to time. I was so upset that I began questioning every interaction we'd ever had. And while I didn't have any real ties to this woman outside these ministry contexts, I couldn't shake the shock of knowing it had all gone so wrong, so fast.
When my anger subsided—much later—I tried to grow from the situation. As I prayed about it, I felt God encouraging me to learn what I could, even if I never fully understood what had happened and why. I talked with others who had served with us, apologizing for how the conflict had affected them and asking for their honest feedback so I could improve. I also talked about the situation with a close friend, knowing she'd tell me the truth, no matter how difficult it was to say. These conversations helped me learn things that I could have done better in the situation and I took those lessons to heart. I worked on forgiving the woman, thanked God for my honest friends and ministry partners, and tried to move on.1