things were always going to happen in life.
And with that she realized the only control
she had was how she chose to handle them.
So she made the decision to survive using
courage, humor and grace. She was the Queen
of her own life and the choice was hers.
I've never done well with people who are mean. And while I know
as surely as I am standing, okay sitting here, that 98% of God's world
is filled with amazing, gracious, kind, and unselfish folks, I also am realistic enough to get that the other 2% can do a lot of damage. Last week I inadvertently bumped into several of them. And it hurt and not just a little bit.
Someone once suggested to me that since I was a Christian, God would keep
me from feeling pain. After all, the person said, wasn't my God a God who could do anything? I had to take a long slow breath before trying to answer that question. Because it is a complex one.
The God I know and love and serve is the Creator of ALL, Almighty and He loves me enough to come along side me in every aspect of my life. But does He shield me from pain and hurts and tough times? No, He doesn't. Those are the times that I grow closer to Him, lean on Him more, seek His word more, and try desperately to love people the way He loves people. Unconditionally.
Last week it wasn't easy to do that.
I am a big believer that words are powerful. Words can do great good and heal and support and help. Or words can hurt and leave scars that don't go away.
Whoever said that "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."...well, they lied.
I may be oversensitive to the meaning behind words. I grew up in a home where at times words were used as weapons. My Dad, and especially when he had been drinking, threw words around like darts heading for the bullseye on a dart board. He knew just where to land the big ones. He knew the vulnerable spots and often went for them. Now please don't misunderstand. I loved my dad dearly, but I didn't like who he became when his anger exploded.
He was suddenly mean and scary, a terrible combination.
So that brings me to last week. The names and place shall remain anonymous
as I am not going to use a computer to damage them the way two folks used emails to throw a few well paced darts at me. The words were totally unexpected. The level of contempt was very thinly disguised. And there was lots of innuendo, fill in the blanks with wondering. Are they talking to me? After all, this is being sent to more than one person. I couldn't help wondering, if they were so upset why they never said a word about it to me individually. Banging the keys of the computer and letting the vent ooze out somehow gave them courage. One word kept surfacing for me. One sentence kept floating back, over and over again. And here it is.
It's easier to throw sticks and stones when you hide behind a computer.
However, it is just pain cowardly. That's right...cowardly.
Yes, it is hard to come to someone and in a face-to-face conversation share how something they did hurt your feelings. Yes, it is hard to share disagreements in philosophy or ways of doing things in a face-to- face format.
It is an adult skill to do that. It takes courage to do that. And it is the right thing to do that.
It allows the other person you have a conflict with to see your face and hear your voice and get the magnitude of what they did that hurt you. However, and since I teach conflict management, I have come to believe that if the goal is to solve a problem or improve a relationship, then find the courage to talk to the person...in person.
They can't fix or change or apologize or make amends when they don't even know they hurt you.
I see this a great deal on some well known women's blogs. I have stopped going there because I cannot stomach the fact that someone would start up a blog of
"haters" who judge and condemn and vilify another human being. How
could someone say such nasty things and not think they would hurt deeply.
More frightening perhaps is that they actually wanted to deeply hurt the other person.
This wasn't an easy week for me. I prayed and prayed and asked for God's guidance. What should I do or say back. I knew for sure that this attack, although thinly disguised, came from someone who must be hurting. It took awhile, but I finally got to the spot where I could pray for them and ask God's guidance about how I could respond in a loving manner.
I made the decision to survive using humor and courage and grace. I had no control about their comments, but I did have control over my response.
Would I be aggressive and defensive? Would I debate them on the grounds that their assumptions were inaccurate and unfair?
Or would I try to gain the seed of truth from what they were upset about?
Would I show compassion and empathy, even if they didn't. Would I find the courage to be kind and caring and loving and compassionate, in my heart, no matter what.
I am still in process. I am focusing on how much LOVE surrounds me and there is SO much of it. I am so grateful for those who love me as I am, faults and all.
I am so grateful for family and friend and colleagues who appreciate the me God created and express that gratitude rather than thinly veiled contempt.
I made a small attempt at communication back and tried to pepper my words
with hope and care and concern and a desire to heal hurts.
My beloved hubby, upon reading what was said, had a few well chosen words to share. I won't put them here as they might make you blush a bit. But once he calmed down he said, "Plain and simple, honey. They may be a bit jealous of what a great person you are, " Of course he would say that because he loves me with his whole heart.
My daughter sent me the quotation at the start of this blog post and listened to me as I felt so sad and almost sick to my stomach. Her empathy and care and calling to see how I was doing...well she and Bert saved me this week.
Vicky Westra, without even knowing the details of the hurt, told me she'd
pray for me and that she loved me and was grateful for me. Also, a quote on Vicky's blog helped my thinking:
Focus on what matters and
let go of what doesn't.
My friend Sharon understood and listened and was angry that someone would vent on me in such a cruel way.
And without my asking for it, countless students and friends and family
connected with me. They didn't even know what had happened. But their kind and loving words soothed my hurting soul. God is good all the time and He knew I needed support.
And my goal? Be kinder than necessary. Go out of my way to let others know they matter to me.
And what keeps coming back in my prayer time?... a clear message
Words are powerful. They can do great good or great harm. Always use them carefully and share them in love. And in the end, be the woman I was created to be. Instead of slinging hurt, sling joy and hope and peace and love.
Thanks God, I'm listening!