Recently I hurt a friend really badly. We have been in chatting about life and twice in the span of three days I said something which was my truth but because of how they see life, their lens was very different from mind and so the conversation hurt them really badly. All this happened in the midst of another set of conversations with other people which had already broken them.
I have always said that I am not responsible for people’s responses to what I say and that is true, but today…it just hurt. I obviously cannot control their feelings, but I am grappling with how do I avoid being the cause of greater pain for this person? Could I have said things differently? I don’t know really. I said what I needed to say as carefully as I could, but it blew up in my face.
I am totally awestruck about how easy it is to hurt each other in relationships and just how much work it takes to keep things on an even plane. I realised so many things through this interaction:
Meaning is internal and individual: This is not a new concept to me but today…it started me down and demanded that I remember that. It doesn’t really matter what I say or how I say it if we are not on the same page. Whatever I say will be understood through the lens of life the other person has and it will be translated as such.
Making friendships work is a joint effort: I said one thing and my friend heard something else. It turns out that even though we talk a lot, we are still diametrically different and each of us has to do the work to connect with and stay connected to the other person. We must jointly choose to either rebuild or let it go.
No one can force the other to understand: My perspective is mind and is filtered through the lens of my life. If I have been hurt before…I will expect people to hurt me again or I will hear things from the place of pain and castigation, not honesty. I must remain calm and willing to listen all the time.
Trust is important: If I trust someone, I know they will never intentionally hurt me so when it happens, they get the benefit of the doubt and they accord me the same. If there is little to no trust, nothing other than suspicion and sadness will manifest and in the end will destroy both of us and the relationship.
Give yourselves room to heal: Nothing good comes from the demand to resolve matters now when one party needs time to process and evaluate what they are feeling and where they stand on the matter of your friendship or relationship. When they ask for space…give it to them even if it hurts you. Why? You also have things to process and deal with so let the person do the same. Beware that after processing one or both of you may want to restructure or even end the friendship…let it happen, you will benefit at the end of it all.
Sit at the foot of the throne and learn: There is something God is trying to teach you through this process. Forget about what you think the other person needs to be learning and focus on what you need to re-learn, change, re-calibrate, let go of, grow into, disconnect from, connect to etc. No relationship is permanent unless the Father says it is so ask Him and He will see you through this challenging season.
My greatest lesson in this season is…solid friendships take time to build but they are worth the effort.