Sunday, July 11, 2010

Our Path of Duty

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Our Path of Duty, by Bishop Keith B. McMullin
Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric

Before I met my wife, my best friend was my roommate. We both came from Chicago to attend school together, we donated plasma together, we worked at the same place together. . . Everything was hunky-dory.

After I met the most beautiful woman in the world (my wife, of course), we went on double-dates with my roommate and his dates, but as I spent more and more time with my girlfriend, something happened to my friendship. What was once conversations full of inside jokes and all-around comradery became the silent treatment. It seemed nothing could be done to reconcile the confusing change.

My experience is nowhere close to the potentially awkward situation outlined by Bishop McMullin; the account of the holocaust survivor who was confronted by a camp prison guard who cited conversion and asked for forgiveness. In her account, she stated that as he stood there with outstretched hand, the decision of what to do was "the most difficult thing I had ever had to do."

I loved the resultant feelings she described after praying for help and taking his hand:

Woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. As I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.
‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart.’
For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then.

As I read that she had never known God's love so intensely, I remembered the situation that I described between myself and my roommate.

Here's the rest of the story:

Being able to bear the discomfort and silence no longer, I tenderly approached him and said that I wasn't sure what I had done to upset him, but that I desperately wanted to be friends again—hoping against hope to see his crinkly smile again.

Unfortunately, the forgiveness issued in Bishop McMullin's story was not extended to me. My friend simply turned and walked away from me, and I don't think he ever said anything else to me again.

With my requested reconciliation denied, I longed to feel the intensity of God's love flow through me. While I still feel haunted by the whole shunted roommate situation, I'm left to wonder if I've ever denied forgiveness from someone who sought it from me.

I hope that I can better walk my "path of duty," including by forgiving and asking forgiveness of others. In addition, I want to live so that I don't offend others—including best friends—to the point where they don't feel comfortable returning to friendship with me again.

Now, I realize that some readers may say, "losing one friend while gaining an eternal friend (wife) is an acceptable loss." This may be true, but imagine the happiness that could have been experienced to share such a happy union with a long-time friend.

0 thoughts