I was out of town when I received a voice message from my friend Gwen. I’d been at a conference all day and couldn’t be reached, so I sat in the hallway and listened to her words. She was hurt, she mentioned, by something I’d said earlier in the week, and she wanted to know my intentions behind it. Had she misunderstood me?
I dislike conflict—especially conflict with people I love. Three or four years ago, words like this from a friend could have sent me into a tailspin. I would have felt anxious and unsure about our relationship, questioning her love for me and our friendship’s footing.
But this time, I was sighing because she was right. I was sighing because I knew that I needed to apologize. I was sighing because, honestly, I was tired of being a sinner. I was tired of hurting the people I love the most.
I connected with Gwen, explained my intentions, and repented for where I had sinned. She was more than gracious. She was loving, and she forgave me. And I wasn’t worried about where we stood; I knew our friendship was solid.
For someone who used to avoid any form of argument as much as possible, I felt oddly buoyed by the realization that I was, in fact, getting better at this conflict thing.
The Grace of a Fighting Friend
Gwen is nothing if not honest. When we became friends, it quickly became apparent to me that she never shied away from conflict.1