Written by Katie Pezzutto
A year ago, my husband and I met a quintessential Brit. Polite and mild-mannered with an acute, stereotypical affinity for literature and Earl Grey. We instantly became friends with him. As the seasons wore on, we invited him to family outings, exchanged gifts over Christmas and braved ice-peaked mountains together.
Later that year, he stopped answering text messages and neglected to show up to any events. Something was off. After church one Sunday, he pulled Alex and me aside. In that bitter moment, I learned that his platonic feelings for me had warped into something romantic. My heart broke as I imagined how he must have felt, hiding this truth. The second layer of the story came like a knife plunging deep. A leader at our church had told him I shared the same feelings for him.
When he said this, I wanted to scream. Someone in our church thought I had manipulated my way into my friend’s heart and emotions? I vehemently told him the rumour wasn’t true. But it was too late. I lost a valuable friendship. I let this eat me up for a couple of days. After talking to my girlfriends and spending time in Scripture, I was able to make beneficial choices and see the situation differently. Throughout the healing process, I learned how to not hold grudges and heal.
First and foremost, I changed my narrative. Everyone sees situations in a different way. People do what they think is right in their own eyes. More often than not, they aren’t trying to hurt others. Instead of harbouring resentment towards the leader who spoke behind my back, I asked Jesus to help me see things the way the leader might have been experiencing them. This helped me forgive.
Yes, what the leader did was irresponsible. But holding onto bitterness made my life worse. Choosing to loosen my grip on vengeance freed me up to experience God’s love even more vibrantly. When I found myself despising the person who spread the rumour (which was for months), I reflected on Matthew 6:14, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.”
That being said, forgiveness isn’t the same as trust. Because of this incident, and some other reasons, Alex and I chose to transition to another church. I made it clear that I was not willing to continue being immersed in a culture that was toxic to me. By the grace of God, we now attend a church where we have the chance to practise new boundaries and feel comfortable being vulnerable. A community can be challenging, but a plethora of valuable lessons await those who trust God to guide them.