I Almost Trashed Our Friendship

In trying to "teach a friend a lesson," Ted learned an even bigger one.
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Ican't believe he thinks he's better than me! I thought as I glared across a crowded school hallway at my so-called friend Daniel.

Daniel and I used to hang out all the time, along with a few other guys, but lately it seemed like he wouldn't give us the time of day—like he was too cool for us. I couldn't understand the change, and I didn't bother asking for an explanation. Instead, I gave him a taste of his own medicine.

"Whaddaya say we teach Daniel a lesson?" I asked my buddies over lunch. "Let's freeze him out."

Once we started giving Daniel the cold shoulder, the "Ignore Daniel Campaign" caught on. Before long, it seemed like almost everybody was ignoring him. He looked so down—especially at lunchtime when he sat alone in the cafeteria with his head hung low, staring miserably at his French fries. Occasionally he nodded and said "hey" when someone passed his table, but all he got in return were mean looks and silence.

At first I was glad my plan had worked, but as I looked at Daniel's sad eyes, my conscience started gnawing at me. I wanted him to know what it felt like to be blown off, but I hadn't thought about how badly my "lesson" would hurt him.

During one lunch period, I watched as Daniel repeatedly glanced at his watch, apparently counting the agonizing minutes until he could leave the cafeteria. I suddenly felt sick to my stomach, knowing I was the one who'd started the whole thing.

Regardless of whether or not I felt like Daniel had shunned me, I shouldn't have been so mean. I knew I should try to be like Jesus and love unconditionally, but I wasn't doing that. I wasn't living God's Word. Instead of treating Daniel the way Jesus would, I let my bruised ego get the best of me.

When the bell finally rang and Daniel got up, I followed him into the hallway.

"Hey, man!" I called out. "I'm sorry."

Daniel turned around slowly, clearly wanting to avoid eye contact.

"Oh, so you're talking to me now?" he asked, the anger showing in his voice.

I apologized again and admitted I had started the "Ignore Daniel Campaign" out of spite.

"I was upset that you've been pulling away from me and the other guys," I said.

"What?" he nearly shouted. "I've left you alone because I thought that's what you wanted."

"Why would I want that?" I asked, completely puzzled.

"Lately I've felt sorta immature compared to you," Daniel said. "So I assumed that you wouldn't wanna hang out with me anymore."

Apparently, we both had been reading each other wrong.

At first Daniel couldn't accept my apology. He needed time to get over all the hurt I'd caused him. But eventually, he did forgive me. We even started hanging out together again. It makes me sad to think I damaged our friendship. But thanks to Daniel's willingness to forgive, it wasn't destroyed.

These days, I'm careful not to jump to conclusions or make false assumptions about people. And regardless of how wronged I feel by someone's words or actions, I try to show kindness and compassion. God wants me to love others, which can be hard sometimes—especially when I'm angry or annoyed. So whenever I'm struggling to be kind and caring to someone, I think about how Jesus sees them. It's just easier to be a good friend—and a good person—when I look at others through God's loving eyes.

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