Find The Gifts
This past week I went through something that we will refer to as "life." I had a very close friend betray me in a way that I could never have seen coming. I pride myself a lot on having a very close-knit friend group and we show up for each other in all aspects of life. We are a tribe.
This particular friend that let me down was one that I had met several years ago and little by little, I had begun to consider him one of my best friends. We had traveled the world and I had even been to a foreign country to meet his family. Recently he invited me over to his house and made Sunday dinner for a few other friends and me and he sat down his five children to tell them that I was family. He told them to refer to me as Uncle Jimmy. He said to them that I would be one of the men to help raise them, and I couldn't have been more proud to take on this role. This man was a best friend and I showed up for him in every part of life.
The betrayal was ugly. It was intentional and it happened multiple times. Once I knew I immediately approached him and gave him a chance to come clean. He apologized and cried on my shoulder for 20 minutes only for me to find out later that he had lied about most of what had happened and it was indeed much worse than I had anticipated. This hurt even more than the actual betrayal because it showed me an ugliness and fakeness that frankly, a human should not be able to display.
I was hurt, angry, and sad all at the same time. I swore I was going to destroy him in every part of his life. In the midst of all this, I had a scheduled call with my beautiful life coach Melissa. I spent 20 minutes going over the story and letting her know the depths of the hurt he had caused. Then when I finished she asked me a question that completely changed everything:
"What gifts did he give you through this?"
It took me off guard, that was not what I was expecting her to say. I hadn't thought of this as a gift in any way. Yet she sat there waiting and so I started to think of what I had gained through this experience. By the time I was done thinking about it, I had come up with 21 different gifts that came from this. Lessons learned, other relationships that had strengthened, boundaries, and standards that I had set. I had a new appreciation for other friends in my life and I could now show up the way I needed to for them.
Then she asked me another question, "How much pain would somebody have to be in to ruin a friendship like the one I had given to him?" I can only imagine. The cost of his actions is without price because one could accumulate all the wealth in the world and still never have what we did. He destroyed several other relationships in his life that had an equal or even greater cost. His pain must be so much that he destroyed everything good he had in his life.
Last night I was on the phone with one of my friends and we were discussing the gifts that had come out of this situation. All the ways this showed us how to be better men and better friends. To love each other enough in the future that we have tough conversations with each other when we see that one of us is out of alignment. That we love each other enough not to let each other self-destruct.
This former best friend is going to have to go through this alone. He is going to have to hit rock bottom that he probably never even knew existed. And he is never going to have the same friendships that he did just a few weeks ago. But even though I felt so betrayed by this man, I sat there on the phone last night, and me and my friend had a moment where we just gave gratitude to this man for all the gifts that came from this. We loved enough to recognize that we get to decide what this all means in the end.
I highly doubt I'll ever let this man back in my life in any regard, and I have standards to be my friend. But I can still humanize him and love him enough to know the cost of the pain he must have been in to do what he did. And I get to accept all the gifts that come with and from his poor decisions.
Above my desk, in my office, there is a simple quote by Viktor E. Frankl. He was a prisoner in a concentration camp during World War 2. He is also the author of the book, "Man's Search for Meaning." One of the most powerful moments of the book is the quote I hang above my desk.
"The one thing you can't take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one's freedoms is to choose one's attitude in any given circumstance."
What a gift it is to know that we get to put on the lens that we choose to see things through. We get to decide the meaning of whatever happens to us. I wasn't a victim, and my life isn't ruined. I received dozens of gifts that cost my friend more than he ever imagined. With thanks, I receive them and I hope you heal your pain, my friend.