The power of forgiveness
Sne feels betrayed when her best friend tricks her out of a job, but refusing to accept her apology has unexpected consequences
IALWAYS thought forgiving was a bit like apologising and that being the victim would give me the power to control the situation. This was until my best friend broke my heart and left me with a simple question – would I ever be able to forgive her? It happened a few years ago after we finished high school. We were undecided about what to study so we took a gap year to explore our interests before we committed to further education.
We had so many things in common and we loved each other’s company – sometimes we even finished each other’s sentences. She was my other half.
Then, one day when I was checking my email, an advert caught my eye. Who else was I going to share it with other than my best friend? I ran to her house and knocked on her door, which she eventually opened with sleepy eyes.
“Mbali! Look at this ad,” I exclaimed in excitement.
She rubbed her big round eyes, took my phone and started to read aloud.
“We are looking for a young female matriculant who is vibrant, ambitious and who has good communication skills. Apply now if you are interested.”
“So, what do you think? I should apply, right? I mean, I have all the qualities. I’m vibrant, I’m ambitious and smart as a bonus. And my English, yoh, it flows like a river!”
Mbali looked at me with doubt and said, “Sne, this isn’t for you.”
I was puzzled. “What are you talking
about, Mbali? Look at the salary, my friend, R15 000 plus a 13th cheque! Just for communicating with people and promoting products. I’m applying today!”
“Sne, these could be scammers – they’re everywhere and they want young, beautiful girls like you. Haven’t you heard about human trafficking? If I were you, I’d delete that email right now!”
I’d never seen my best friend so serious about something as she was that day. What she said made sense to me. I walked home slowly, convincing myself the ad was too good to be true. Before I knew it, I’d pressed the delete button and the email was no more.
Little did I know my supposed best friend had pressed the share button and copied the ad from my phone to hers. She now had the email with the application details and, just as I was deleting mine, she was applying behind my back.
THE news was broken to me by her gogo, who made a big fuss of my friend in front of me. “Mbali, I’m so proud of you! You’ll now work for a big company with expensive products. Don’t forget to pave the way for your friend too once you’re settled.”
Mbali tried to stop her grandmother from revealing her dirty secret but it was too late – I’d already figured out she’d stolen my job.
“How could you, Mbali? You convinced me not to apply for this position so you could take it instead. What sort of friend are you?”
I was furious and I stormed out of her house and didn’t speak to her again. I ignored her knocking at my door, I deleted her number and blocked her on Facebook. When she threw a big party and invited me as a VIP, I didn’t show up.
The relationship between our two families was also ruined – it was too awkward to continue meeting when their daughters wouldn’t speak to each other.
I have to admit it was hard – my life wasn’t the same without my other half and finding a new friend was challenging because trust had just become a major issue for me.
Over the years I often heard people talking about how successful she was.
They gossiped about the new car she was driving, the clothes she was wearing and the fancy renovations she had planned for her home.
There were also rumours she’d put in an offer on a big house so she could live like a queen.
I wasn’t bothered by the talk. I was finishing my degree at university, studying for a job that suited my abilities and that I was passionate about.
She still tried to call me once in a while and sent me messages saying how sorry she was about what she’d done.
She said she’ would never have risked our friendship if she’d realised the outcome of her actions.
As for me, I thought the more guilt she felt the better. I could see I was upsetting her, but I didn’t realise I was being negatively affected at the same time.
I was doing my final year of physiotherapy when I started experiencing blackouts.
I thought it was because I wasn’t getting enough rest but even forcing myself to sleep for eight hours a night didn’t make any difference.
My mother took me to the doctor who prescribed some medication. This was a quick fix, but it wasn’t a cure. He suggested I see a psychologist.
The psychologist asked me millions of questions and eventually we started talking about what had happened between Mbali and I.
As I told her the story I started crying uncontrollably and it suddenly dawned on me that I was still angry.
“Well, it seems this is the main cause of your blackouts,” the psychologist announced. “You’re undergoing huge stress due to something bad that happened in your past.”
I was shocked. “But what can I do? I’m writing my final exams soon and I can’t concentrate on my studies because of the persistent headaches and blackouts.”
“It’s quite simple. All you have to do is forgive your friend. You may be the victim in this story but that doesn’t mean you won’t feel bad, just as she does. You used to be a big part of each other’s lives so her absence is as painful to you as it is to her. Forgive her.”
These weren’t the words I wanted to hear, but I knew she was right. I had to do something – for both our sakes.
THE next day I went to visit my friend’s home for the first time in years. Her car was parked outside and for a second I thought, that should’ve been mine. But I pulled myself together – I was here to make peace. I knocked on the door and her gogo welcomed me with a warm smile, just like she’d always done. I asked to speak to Mbali and she directed me to her bedroom.
The room was unrecognisable – a bit like my friend who lay on her bed looking thin, fragile and very ill.
“Mbali! What happened to you?” I cried, shocked by her appearance.
“Sne, my old friend, you came. When will you forgive me? I’ve apologised for many years but you never replied. I’ve suffered so much because of what I did to you.
“All the luxuries I have – my car, my home, my connections – they mean nothing to me compared to what we had. Take them all – I don’t want them anymore. I want my friend. I’m so sorry, Sne. If I could turn back the hands of time, believe me, I would.”
Mbali had been severely depressed for months and she’d been suspended from work. She was on the verge of suicide.
Guilt consumed me as I looked at the wreck that used to be my friend. I also wished I could turn back time so that I’d answered her calls and replied to her messages. I wished I’d listened to her pleas and accepted her apologies. I’d almost lost my friend for good.
Now, a year later, Mbali is back on her feet and thriving once again. I’m a qualified physiotherapist and love every moment of my work. Every weekend we get together to catch up and enjoy each other’s company, just like the old days.
It was a hard lesson but I’ve learnt to never underestimate the power of forgiveness.
‘All the luxuries I have mean nothing to me compared to what we had’