(This was written sometime in the last month. NOT today. Today has been a pretty good day, actually. And by the way, please notice all of my new tags! Yes, you can look up all sorts of stuff on my blog now! AND I have officially begun an author's website. You can find the link over there if you look hard.)
Today was a rotten day. The problem was that I didn’t feel well. Whenever I have some odd thing wrong with my body, I get extremely emotional because I suddenly feel the weight of all the time I’ve spent feeling ill in the past few years and because I am terrified that the old strange sickness is returning, that the progress I believe I’ve made is all a dream . . . etc. etc. I know, I know. Bad habit. Lack of faith. Self-fulfilling prophecy. Ingratitude. Knowing all of this only too well means that in addition to feeling miserable and terrified, I also feel extremely guilty. (“This is just a tiny little thing! You’ve been so much better! You’ll be better soon! So many people are so much worse off! How dare you be depressed by this?”)
So it was a bad day. So I was an emotional nutcase already.
And then someone, a friend that I love dearly, gave me some advice about something that she doesn’t know all the facts about. And since she didn’t really know what she was talking about, her advice didn’t really apply and yet it still hurt to know that she saw me as being in need of such counsel. Of course, being a walking time-bomb, I let it completely devastate me.
Luckily, I didn’t let on. Because I could see then (and, of course, even more clearly now) that she was really trying to help, truly speaking out of love for me.
One of the things that hurts about it, though, is that I realized again how many times I do the same thing to other people. I’m an oldest child, a teacher, a permanent preacher, a know-it-all, a bossy-pants. I try to advise people. It’s got to be so annoying! Of course I do it out of love, out of a desire to help people avoid pain that I had to go through. But that doesn’t matter. Doing it implies that I don’t trust them to find their own way. Doing so implies that I think I know the whole story. Doing so is something I’ve got to quit!
I wonder how many people I have hurt deeply by this behavior. Occasionally someone will tell me I’ve been out of line. This, of course, hurts a lot, but I’ve been grateful for it because it has given me a chance to examine myself, apologize and repent.
However, I have never been able to do the same: to tell someone that they have hurt me deeply with something they’ve said.
I’ve been wondering why that is. Part of it is cowardice. I’m just not very assertive. I shake when there is confrontation. Part of it is that I know how much it hurts me when someone confronts me. I always mean well, and when someone confronts me it is obvious that they didn’t know I meant well, or that it didn’t matter to them that I meant well, or that they felt it was more important to teach me than to forgive me. Again, I’ve been grateful, actually, when people have done so but it has been very painful. I truly don’t want to cause that kind of pain for anyone. But does wanting to avoid that do them a disservice, or is it better to just forgive them, and assume they meant well?
When is it right to tell someone they’ve hurt you, and when is it better to just try to forgive and forget? How do you decide?