Who knows what the conflict was about? More than a decade ago, my friend and her family joined ours for an evening get-together. By the end she’d left, feeling hurt and declaring that she wouldn’t be back. Friendship over. As I watched her family walk out our front door into the cold night beyond, I felt terrible.

We’d met at church. At the time, my husband, Dana, and I had two young children. My friend and her husband had three. Soon, we each welcomed one more, swapping playdates and celebrating birthdays. Whenever I needed to vent or laugh or seek advice, my friend was there.

Then, all of a sudden, she wasn’t. After our unhappy parting, I wondered what I’d done wrong and how to fix it. Months passed, and since we no longer attended the same church, I didn’t see her. But daily I thought of my friend, questioning how to mend our broken relationship.

“Bless those who curse you,” the Bible says in Luke 6:28 (NLV). “Pray for those who hurt you.”

My friend hadn’t cursed me, but we were both hurt. For months, the unhappy incident looped through my mind on constant replay. As I considered what do, the thought came to me: What if, instead of harboring my hurt feelings, I decided to bless her? Whenever my friend came to mind, I pictured her in my mind and asked God to bless her. But bestowing a blessing isn’t just about kind petitions or words, the pastor of our little country church taught. To really bless someone, he said, reach out in a tangible way.

Knowing my friend loved to cook, I sent her a subscription to my favorite cooking magazine along with a card, saying I missed her. As soon as it arrived, my friend phoned and said that she missed me, too. The most ridiculous part? Neither of us even remembered what we’d been so upset about! I’m sure we both apologized anyway.

When we feel wrongly wounded, it’s easy to hold onto unforgiveness, rather than to respond in love. But had my friend and I allowed this trifling event to destroy our friendship, we would have missed out on an even bigger blessing.

You see, a year or so after we reconciled, my friend and her family signed up with a volunteer organization to host Ruth, a 16-month-old abandoned baby from a Ugandan orphanage. Ruth had cerebral palsy and was in Maine for physical therapy. Our friends opened their home and hearts to her, taking her to medical appointments, around town, and to church – the same church my family and I visited one hot August night that changed our lives forever.

As soon as our friends introduced us to Ruth, my husband suggested we adopt her! I thought he was crazy. But nine months of prayer and determination later – including a whirlwind trip to East Africa – we became Ruth’s legal guardians. The next year, we adopted her. Standing beside us in the Sagadahoc County courthouse when the judge signed Ruth’s adoption papers was my dear friend and her family.

Ruth filled our lives with joy and laughter. She also opened our hearts to the needs of other people in the developing world with disabilities. However, had my friend and I allowed a now-forgotten conflict to destroy our relationship, Dana and I would likely have never met our precious daughter. One small misunderstanding could have cost us dearly.

But thanks to the power of a blessing, I gained back my friend along with a precious daughter.

Meadow Rue Merrill is the author of the memoir, “Redeeming Ruth: Everything Life Takes, Love Restores,” released May 1 with Hendrickson Publishers. All personal proceeds benefit orphans and people with disabilities in Uganda.

Merrill writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of the midcoast. Connect at: www.meadowrue.com