I glanced out my window and saw her—my enemy—coming up the street. I had dreaded approaching her, but here was my opportunity. It was now or never. My stomach churned, my heart pounded, and I shook all over as I raced out the front door.
It had started out innocently enough. My boy had fought with her boy, and she had come to my house to confront me and to tell me how I should be raising my son. While the boys soon made up their differences, this was not so with their mothers.
Then, in the ensuing weeks, I began to hear things from our neighbors that she was supposedly saying about me. Her comments hurt deeply, and soon I, too, started talking about her behind her back. We went to great lengths to avoid each other, including walking on opposite sides of the street and even missing a neighborhood party if the other had been invited. This went on for two long years.
One day as I knelt beside my bed in prayer, I was struck by the thought that if I continued harboring ill feelings toward my neighbor, the Spirit could not abide with me. I realized that I had let hate grow in my heart, and it was eating away at my very soul.
I desperately needed my Heavenly Father and his Spirit to be with me, and I sorely needed to repent. I fasted and prayed for help regarding how I might mend the breach between us. I needed an opportunity to make things right.
Now it seemed my prayers had been answered. Gathering my courage, I ran out the door to stop her and grabbed her by her shoulders. She stared at me in shock. Quickly I blurted out, “Will you please, please forgive me? I do not know if we can ever be friends, and I do not know what you will do in the future, but I vow from this day forward never to speak ill of you again. I will no longer consider you to be my enemy.”
What happened next is hard to express. The sweet Spirit of the Lord enveloped both of us on that special summer day. As we took each other into our arms, the bitterness melted away. We cried and hugged and laughed. What a sharp contrast to the feeling of just a short time before.
Love, joy, and peace are such sweet companions to choose to surround ourselves with in this life that I wondered why I had chosen to carry around heavy burdens of anger and ill will that weighed down my soul and sapped my spiritual strength for so long. I am pleased to say that I kept my vow and that we became friends. I have since moved, but I have not forgotten the lessons of forgiveness and love I learned that precious summer day.