I learned a very important lesson yesterday: As painful as confrontation can be, when misunderstandings and truths are revealed, something beautiful can grow in its place.
We all have people in our lives who we butt heads with, find annoying, or who hurt us. Some of these people are in our lives not by choice, but by marriage, neighborhood, co-workers, family, parents of children's friends, etc. We are forced into situations with these people and have to find a way to co-exist. I have always thought I was a pretty honest person. What you see is what you get. But in reality, that is not true. When I encounter these people in my life, I hide from them, I put up walls, I even become something I hate....passive aggressive. I am not even aware of it most of the time. I do another thing I hate...I talk about them to people I know love me and care for me. Instead of having the guts to make the first move and try to work out the problems, I let fear of conflict rule my decisions.
Yesterday, one of these relationships in my life was forced to the open. Years of fear and mistrust were revealed to the public. At first I was humiliated. But, fortunately the other person reached out to me. That reaching out, gave me the courage to take it one step farther and meet with them one on one. What ensued, was one of the most honest discussions I have had with someone other than my husband. I owned my own part in the relationship. I confessed my own misdeeds. I apologized. I listened and really heard what she had to say. We cried together. She forgave me. I forgave her. I left that house feeling euphoric. A feeling I haven't had in a long time. I am grateful for her honesty and her grace.
Looking back on my life, I see several of these relationships. Some, I have tried to reach out and have an honest discussion, only to be slapped away. Some, I didn't take the time to sit down and be open. I regret those relationships, now. I wonder what good could have come from an honest discussion. But I also have to realize, I was not at a place in my life that I could be that honest and vulnerable.
For most of my life, I didn't want anyone to think that I was not perfect. I know...no one is perfect. I knew that in my head, but my heart couldn't stand to think that others thought ill of me. This was paralyzing and extremely hurtful to my psyche. It has taken years and many friendships to teach me to love myself in spite of my imperfections. It took others' love to show me I was okay. Poor Jack has been waiting years for me to see what he sees. But, I guess I just couldn't do it until now. I am thankful that I am young enough to live out of this place and didn't go to my grave with these incorrect thoughts and feelings.
I am also thankful for all of my friends who have loved me and tried to teach me that they loved all of me, not the perfections, but the imperfections too. I am thankful that Jack never gave up on me. He continued to love me and show me grace.
I am also proud of myself for taking that difficult step in talking face to face with someone whom I had built up quite a bit of fear towards. I am thankful for her making it easy for me, for being as vulnerable as I was, and for her grace.
Who do you avoid in your life? Who do you grit your teeth when you have to be with them? Is it possible that there is grace there? I know not all relationships can be confronted and not all people can be vulnerable. And I realize there are relationships that must just be walked away from. But from now on, I will try to be more aware of my own part in my relationships, especially the difficult ones. What about you?