Good friends share mutual trust and respect, the mortar that secures the relationship. The stronger the ties of mutual responsibility, the more value we place on those relationships. Those are the friends I most cherish.

Occasionally, life steps in with lessons, circumstances and twists that encourage me to revisit my values, reassess my direction and move to the next stage in my life. Those “opportunities” are usually difficult and uncomfortable, yet they allow me to reset my compass.

Confrontation causes me to question: Am doing the right thing? Is this a loving action? Am I coming from integrity? What is my part? Over the week, my emotions ranged from surprise and disappointment, to anger and sadness. Then as clarity emerged, they moved to resolve and release. At the start, I felt out on a limb, alone, like the whistle blower in the Trump impeachment proceedings. I had called attention to something that had been going on for a while.

We are often given opportunities to look to ourselves as a microcosm of issues playing out on the global stage. Do we allow people in our life to throw blame rather than accept responsibility? Do we acquiesce to maintain the peace rather than stand for our values? For me, these are hard lessons, ones that require me to choose between what my heart knows to be true and wishing that I could help another see this as an opportunity for growth. We are not responsible for another’s journey. Someone once told me that when you try to be someone’s savior, you get crucified.

Tonight, I came across a card that my mother-in-law, Joy, sent to me years ago. A sharp in-breath spontaneously shook my body when I recognized her handwriting. I heard her voice as I read her perfectly timed words in light of my current conundrum that validated my resolve: “…I’m proud to know you. I’m proud of who you are and what you’ve achieved. I’m proud of your values and your ethics and the way you live your life…” Our friendship was honest to the core, sometimes painfully so. Our mutual trust and vulnerability allowed tremendous growth. I attribute many of my values to her 47-year mentorship.

With regard to my current lesson, I can almost hear Joy say, “If the mortar of trust and respect are gone, the relationship has nothing to hold it together. And, sad as it may be, you must let go.”