Friendship, Distance, and Forgiveness - Guest Post from Ashley Barrett

As a female, it's sometimes hard to navigate through different seasons of life with people. Single, married, pregnant, motherhood. Sometimes it's hard to relate to others, sometimes our lives just become so different that schedules and priorities just don't seem to align anymore. Sometimes our interests no longer match up, and sometimes, without even seeing it, a gap can begin to grow between us and some of our closest friends. Amanda and I were really, really great at sharing the married season together. Being so involved in a ministry that was still so small meant that we spent a toooooon of time together. We worked out together, we scheduled play dates with our nanny families together, we spent down time together. It felt like we had EVERYTHING in common. I'd say easily 5 out of the 7 days we would have some kind of quality time spent together. We were as close as two friends could be for about 2 years. I can't even tell you how many times I would tell Derek that I had found the perfect friendship.

Soon we both began to feel a new season approaching. We both felt like we were ready to be moms. One weekend, the four of us all went to Chicago for a fun getaway, and Amanda was pretty sure that in the hotel room down the hall, Weston was conceived (don't be weird about it). Earlier, in that same week, Derek and I had decided that it was probably wise that he and I wait. As much as I couldn't wait to be a mom, I knew in my heart that that season wasn't mine just yet.


Fast forward just a few weeks, the four of us met to see the second Hunger Games. As I waited in the lobby for Davey and Amanda to arrive, I got a text on my phone. It was Amanda telling me she was pregnant!!! And then 5 seconds later she walked in the door. She hadn't told anyone (besides maybe the parents) and said she was too nervous to tell anyone in person! I was totally in shock and gave her the biggest hug. I wish I could say that all I felt was excitement for her in that moment. But if I'm being real, I also felt sadness for myself.

Over the next few months, I really felt so much joy and happiness for her. I felt as if she was carrying my nephew! She was absolutely the cutest preggers. She tried so hard to stay healthy and eat lots of veggies. I can remember her asking me how to make sweet potato fries and coconut oil chocolate bars. That was the year that we trained for our second half marathon together.

While my bond with Amanda didn't weaken, I naturally felt myself aligning my schedule and conversations with women who were still in the same season as me. Honestly, while all I wanted to do was talk about and know all of the details of Amanda's pregnancy, there was a little bit of relief in my heart when I could just chat with other girls about our dog-babies and non-mom life. Please hear my heart, it was not jealousy or bitterness that I was feeling at the time, but a relentless longing in my heart that could not yet be fulfilled.

When Weston finally came along, I loved him more than I had ever loved a little boy before. Amanda was so good about involving me in her new life those first few months. Weston was a new addition to our friendship, and just tagged along when we garage-saled or laid out at the pool. While things were certainly different, our love of spending time together didn't change.

I'm not sure when the distance between Amanda and I started to grow. She was so good at keeping her priorities straight, and she was set on making sure her new family of three spent lots of quality time together. In that same season, our church was taking on a lot of new territory. Derek, as the only other Resonate staff member at the time, and I naturally had a lot on our plate. With Amanda's new busy season of motherhood, and our new busy season of ministry, it just simply meant that there wasn't enough free time on our schedules to sync up together.

I begin spending a lot of time with women who were in the same ministry team as me. Amanda begin spending time with new and soon to be moms. We both were walking in exactly the season that God had called us to, but unfortunately it meant that we were walking on different paths most the time.

If I'm being honest again, as time passed, a bitterness did begin to grow in my heart. Really towards anyone who was in the season of life that I so desperately wanted to be in. And instead of facing it and trying to grow through that bitterness, I walked away from it, and towards new friendships. Amanda could feel it. I could feel it. And all of a sudden there was this new tension of "you're my best friend, but life is weird right now, so when we're both moms, we'll be back to normal again." It sounds silly, but I'm sure a lot of you can understand exactly what I'm saying.

Months passed, things just begin to feel worse, and we both decided we needed to sit down and talk about it. We scheduled a lunch together just the two of us. That lunch was October 10th, 2015, just a month before Amanda went to be with Jesus.

No true friendship is all sunshine and daisies. And really the only friendships that are worth anything are the ones that have to go through difficult things together. We had seen the good and the not so good of one another, and we loved each other all the more for it. During that lunch in October, we laid out every single bit of bitterness, frustration, hurt, and regret that we had somehow picked up along the way. I shared things that I had been feeling for far too long, and she did the same.

In the next month, October 10th-November 10th, I honestly truly mean it when I say our friendship felt better than ever. We laughed and spent time together just like we did in that first 2 years of our friendship. Looking back now and knowing what would transpire, that difficult, but extremely healing lunch was one of the greatest gifts that Jesus has ever given me. I have never been more grateful for a month of time in my life ever before.

I really only share all of this for the woman who is walking through a season of bitterness right now. For the woman who is on the edge of losing a friendship because of the avoidance of facing the confrontation. To steer clear of awkwardness or tension isn't worth that loss. To the woman who rightfully so is feeling like she's been wronged, choose to forgive. To the woman who has done the wrong, swallow your pride, get over yourself, and ask for forgiveness. Life is short. You really will never know what tomorrow holds.

If we had not sat down to that lunch, I would be carrying a guilt today that would be too much to bear. I'm so thankful that Jesus led our friendship to a place of reconciliation and healing. Please, please, please give your friendships the same chance.

To say these last 6 months have changed me would be the biggest understatement ever. I'm no longer one that gives in to bitterness or envy, and I can now see the value of a good friendship like never before. Now that I'm walking in the light of how very important that last month together with Amanda was for me, I really cannot wait to hug the friend who never gave up on me or our friendship.

Sharing this story is not something that I wanted to do, and feels very personal and vulnerable, but I really feel like Jesus was asking me to. I hope that if anything, by calling out my own selfishness, you might find healing through my hurt.