I am not, by nature, a shopper, and gift giving is not my love language. I don’t enjoy any of the sensory sedimentation that comes with being in a shopping mall, center, or store. I grow anxious standing in lines or pushing through crowds. So, though you may find me hopeless, I can be found trying to avoid all shopping on this day after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday referred to as “Black Friday.”
That being said, however, I must admit that I have gotten my hopeless self up to partake in the “Black Friday” experience. It was well over ten years ago, and it wasn’t my idea, but I’ve experienced it. The young woman who lives next door to me begged me to join her. She is the ultimate shopper, and her love language is gift giving. She celebrates and prepares for “Black Friday” almost as much as the Thanksgiving meal. So, when she bribed me with pecan pie for breakfast, I joined her. She invited me because this was her way of loving me, and I went because I loved her too.
She and I were both stay at home moms. We liked to garden, cook, and clean together, and her oldest boy used to play with my youngest boy. We got each other through the tough days and the not so tough days. We enjoyed talking until our husbands came home from work and we had to put our conversation on hold until we could meet again. It is not a mistake that I am stating this all in the past tense. See, I sinned against this young woman and her family ten years ago. As a result, our friendship dissolved.
It all began with some tension over a difference in our child rearing styles. It ended with me gossiping with another neighbor in my unrighteous anger. I was very wrong, and, to make it worse, the other neighbor I spoke with took what I said and used it to hurt me and this young woman that I loved so dearly. My young friend refused to forgive me, and an actual fence was put up between our two yards and families.
I’ve often thought the name “Black Friday” for the Friday after Thanksgiving sounded more evil than good. To me, this event has demoted the family meal on Thanksgiving to the rank of side thought before the feast of shopping over-indulgence. My understanding, however, is that the “black” actually refers to the profit that businesses turn over on this day. As the holiday shopping revenue begins pouring in, businesses see their profit numbers turn from red to black. Well, like their numbers, my spiritual walk was in the “red” when I sinned against my friend.
I believed I had done everything I possibly could by trying to apologize in the moment this all happened. She was so hurt she didn’t want to listen to me or forgive me; so, I just ignored that open wound that was left and walked on through each day thinking there was nothing more I could do. Yes, the fence between us bothered me. They put it up with the ugly side toward us, but it was all on their side of the lot. It was their way of dealing with what I had done to them, and there was nothing I could do to change this. Emotionally, it kept bothering me more as each year passed, however.
It was years later while I was in prayer asking the LORD to help me remove any obstacles lying in the way of a fruitful ministry for Him that I was shown the truth of how ugly this wound was, and how much I had neglected ministering it. First Mark 11:25 was given to me, “When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” I realized I was holding some pretty hard feelings in against my dear neighbor. This was the root of my sin against her. I surrendered them to Jesus right there, and He threw them away. A great burden was lifted off of me, but things were just not right yet. See, with my feelings against her gone, all I could see was what I had done against her. This time in prayer I was brought to the Scripture Matthew 5:23-24, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” This wasn’t easy for me to do. I mean, giving Jesus the reins on my hurt and anger was actually easy. I didn’t feel the same way about going to my ex-friend and bringing up this old wound again, but I knew I had to. I knew this with everything in me because suddenly seeking her out was all I could think about, and I couldn’t accomplish a thing in my ministries or prayer walk without dwelling on it. I finally made a batch of cookies and took them over as a gift to her. I walked around the fence and at her threshold I asked for her forgiveness, and she gave it to me, God bless her. She even hugged me, and this is my love language.
Our relationship is not what it once was, but I can say that there is no bitterness between us. The day I went to her for forgiveness was a “Black Friday” for us both. Reconciliation profits all.
LORD, be blessed. My heart reflects Paul’s in his letter to Philipi. I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. Use me, my Lord. May those who read this, be blessed in Your heavenly, precious name. Amen.