We sat side by side on the small footbridge in complete silence. There were mere inches between us, but it may as well have been a couple of miles. The chains of our fathers’ commands kept us fastened in place, but neither of us wanted to be there. We were being forced against our will. To anyone looking on at that moment, the last thing they would have thought was that we were best friends. But sometimes your best friend can seem like your worst enemy.
Weeks of completely ignoring each other had finally led to this moment. In our eight- or nine-year-old minds, we each were absolute angels while the other was guilty of an unforgiveable sin. And what was this sin that led a pair of best friends to never want to speak to each other again? Well, it was started with a petty game of chess.
The details of argument are a little hazy now, but through the fog, my mind can still recall a few memories of that fateful day.
It occurred at the New Zealand family campout. That afternoon, the tables in the dining hall were filled with adults and teenagers playing board games. Although there were a variety of board games, the most common sight among the tables was the chessboard. To join in the excitement, my friend and I decided to play chess together too. All began well, but as the game progressed, the competition rose. Neither of us would accept defeat.
And then it happened. My friend took her move, believing that this had surely won her the game. I hurriedly swooped in with crushing news. With all my chess experience (which was essentially non-existent), I let her know that the move was illegal. Relieved that I was still in the game, I held my ground against her protests.
We were both sure that our version of the rules was correct. We couldn’t possibly be wrong. In our stubbornness, the inevitable resulted: World War III. At least, that is what it seemed like to us. Neither one of us gave up ground as our argument got more and more heated. Eventually, my friend got up and stormed off in deep resentment.
That was it. Our friendship was over. Neither of us really wanted it to be over, but until the other one admitted that she was wrong, the friendship was most definitely over.
After weeks of self-inflicted silence and separation, we still had not resolved our petty issues. It was time for someone else to step in.
On the day of the New Zealand wood chopping fundraiser, I watched as our fathers talked, dreading what I knew was coming. They were going to make us apologize to one another.
All too soon, our fathers separated. Each headed toward his daughter, and they led us both to that small footbridge. They sat us down, and before walking off, they told us that we had to talk it over—together. I was not expecting this. I thought we would be told to face each other and quickly apologize—then we could separate again and pretend that all was roses when neither of us had really meant it. Instead, we were forced to do this the adult way: Talk—and talk until it was completely resolved. This is exactly what we were both determined not to do.
Thus, we sat there for what seemed like a really long time. It was probably less than 5 minutes. It would have been longer, but all of a sudden, my brother’s voice shattered the deafening silence as he came rushing toward us from among the trees and bushes by the creek’s bank.
“A duck has just abandoned her nest by the creek, and it is full of eggs!” he excitedly told us.
Instantly, my friend and I forgot about everything else and ran after my brother as he headed back in the direction that he had just come from. This idea of saving abandoned duck eggs was our call to action. For our young animal-loving minds, we were desperately needed. Everything depended on us!
As we surveyed the scene, the rescue mission began. And, suddenly, all the previous tension completely disappeared as quickly as it had arrived. I quickly told my friend that I didn’t care about what had happened and that we should just be friends again. She barely had time to let out her agreement before we excitedly began discussing how we would save these orphaned eggs. They had to be saved from imminent death!
Rushing back to our parents, we hurriedly told them of what had happened and all our plans to protect and hatch these poor ducklings. Although our tongues tripped over themselves, and we continuously interrupted each other, the story finally got out in a jumbled mess. By this time, we had completely forgotten that we were ever worst enemies. All our parents did was smile as we turned to rush back to our important mission–together.
As we set about to complete this task, we both realized that whatever we had fought over didn’t matter at all. This wasn’t our first argument and certainly not our last, but we finally realized that no petty disagreement should ever destroy our friendship. Without each other, life would never be as fun.
Friends are important. When you don’t have someone to share exciting memories with, someone to laugh in the good times and cry in the bad times with, or someone to help you save those poor duck eggs with, life is never as good as God meant to be. When God created Adam, He realized that it wasn’t good for him to be alone (Genesis 2:18), and He created Eve to be Adam’s helpmeet.
God created us to need people—to need friends. As Proverbs 18:24 says, “There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” God wants us all to have friends like that! But the same verse also says, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly.” If we are ever going to have friends or keep our friends, we must be kind to them. We must be willing to admit when we are wrong, and we must be able to forgive and forget. Holding a grudge is one of the best ways to destroy a friendship. Everyone makes mistakes, but true friends are quick to forgive.
Although the duck eggs never made it, our friendship did—because we were finally able to forgive one another. And as my friend and I look back on that experience ten years later, we are both relieved that we finally learned that a true friendship is too important to be destroyed by a trivial disagreement.