The sun is setting on a dreary, damp day filled up with chores and errands and tasks. I don’t have anything exciting to turn my focus toward but have a long list of mundane tasks pulling at me. I’m tired and still a bit run down with the after-effects of being a bit ill. And, now, my feelings are hurt. I am right square in the middle of the natural response, dwelling on what hurt my feelings, focusing down on it so that it becomes bigger and bigger in my eyes. The more I focus on it, the more it burns. The more it burns, the more I start seeing other interactions as slights, more kindling for my self-pity.
But, by the grace of God, the Holy Spirit whispers: “Loving people is risky; it is painful and often mired down in messiness, but love never fails.”
My hurt heart pushes back, emboldened and louder, listing off all the pain points I have suffered because loving people is painful. “Well, clearly there is a love issue going on here,” I mutter. My complaint gets louder in my head and fans the flame of self-righteous indignation.
“And,” His gentle, quiet voice continues, unfazed by my rant, “People who love you have felt the same way.”
The list of hurts still echoing loudly in my head, I turn my focus toward His voice. “Wait, what?”
I hear Him again in my heart, “People who love you have felt the same way.”
“Okay, well, I suppose,” my heart reluctantly admits. “I suppose that the people who love me have been hurt by me. I’m not perfect after all. Sure, I’ve messed up–I know that.”
“But I try hard to treat people with kindness and consideration,” my heart pouts, “but I know I have blown it plenty of times. I know I have messed up– especially with those closest to me, people I love the most.”
“Honestly, they may think I have blown it more than I realize. After all they are around me the most and have seen me at my worst. But, You know. You know, I have tried to make it right when I know I have messed up.”
“Ok, sure, there have been times I couldn’t make it right. It doesn’t mean I didn’t want to. I am sure there have even been times when people have been hurt by something even though what I did was totally meant for good. I’ve even been told I hurt someone by something they completely misunderstood, or even something they think I said or did that in my deepest heart I know I did not say or do. Regardless, it hurt them, but You know that even when I have hurt them that it didn’t mean I don’t care. ”
His holy presence in my deceptive heart sits quietly, listening and calling at the same time.
I groan a bit.
“You know what I did and didn’t do better than I do. You know when I have hurt someone accidentally. You know when I have lashed out. You know that sometimes I have hurt them by doing what I believe is the right thing; standing before You, I believed it the right thing, what I had to do to honor You. I answer to You.”
I feel His gentle prodding.
I drop my chin a bit.
“You do know that, but You know more. Sometimes, probably a lot less often than I think, it was that I was doing what I needed to do, am called to do. Sometimes we just saw things differently–no one really right or wrong. But, the truth is, I have hurt people because I’m selfish, sometimes because I’m naive, sometimes because I’m oblivious, sometimes because I’m distracted, sometimes because I’m lazy, sometimes because I’m tired, sometimes because I’m mistaken, plenty of times because I’m wrong.”
A tear rolls down my face.
“It didn’t mean I don’t care about them. I do care. I really do care.”
I feel His love and feel His nudge.
“How is it that this started out about how much someone hurt my feelings, and it is now suddenly about me? How do You do that?”
“So, let’s go back to them,” He leads. “If that’s true about you–then what about them?”
My heart knows the answer, but even in my own head, I resist saying it. The silence stretches.
“You wanted to go back to focusing on them,” He insists. “If this is true about you–then what about them?”
My stubborn heart admits, “It doesn’t mean they don’t care. It may be that they were wrong or maybe just tired or distracted. Maybe they were being selfish or maybe they just were seeing it differently. Maybe they felt like it was what they had to do. Just like me, they answer to You. Maybe they don’t even know my feelings are hurt, or if they do know, maybe they truly don’t believe they have done or said what I believe.
He whispers, “Loving people is risky; it is painful and often mired down in messiness, but love never fails.”
I sit silent, calmer than I have been in hours. The sun has fully set and the air is crisp. The chores aren’t finished, but the list isn’t quite as long. My heart is lighter. Clouds streak the night sky. In the gaps, stars twinkle and and a half moon shines.