In high school, I had the wonderful opportunity to work closely with our youth pastor as a student leader. My male counterpart, John, was a friend I dearly loved and admired. He was incredibly talented and a strong leader. Not only were we part of the planning and organization of our youth group, but we were personally discipled by our pastor and met on a regular basis to discuss reading assignments and life in general. This was a phenomenal opportunity to grow into the leaders God created us to be.

John and I went our separate ways in college. John was so talented he majored in English and then continued on to medical school after graduation. As I was starting my family, John was in his residency. In 2006, my young family and I were in my hometown visiting my parents. A flood of phone calls streamed into my parents’ house with rumors that John committed suicide. Immediately, I rejected the idea and denied my grief; my emotions were channeled into anger.

Indeed, suicide was just a rumor. John died from an anaphylactic reaction to a substance used to cut cocaine. He was a secret addict who struggled to overcome his addiction all throughout college. Having already returned home to Cincinnati, I decided not to travel back for the funeral. I spoke to our youth pastor and thought I would be fine. I wrote John an angry letter and filed it away thinking I had put it all to rest.

Little did I know there was a sickness growing inside; I was carrying a seed of bitterness. From time to time I would return to the angry letter and stew over the shame of it all. I would look at the funeral notice and think about what might have been. I didn’t realize I was refusing to forgive John. I should have known something was wrong when I was surprised and slightly annoyed by classmate’s questions at our high school reunion the year after his death.

Just before Easter of 2008, God started to work on my heart. He led me to a website John’s parents created. It was an organization and scholarship program designed to help other parents and children struggling with drug addiction. When I explored the impact John was having on so many people, my heart began to soften. God has been accomplishing all He had in mind through John’s life and death.

On Easter Sunday our church had a call to repentance. When unforgiveness was mentioned, God pierced my heart. “I’ve forgiven John,” He said, “Have you?” Tears flowed freely down my face as I confessed my unbelief and lack of forgiveness. For the first time, I honestly mourned my great friend.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>