Monday, August 15, 2011

What Words Can Do

Last night, the Professor put on his wizard cape and did some magical hocus pocus on my computer that not only updated the software, but synched all my various Mail programs (iPad Mail, Apple Mail, Gmail). While this was wonderful and heroic, it also meant that I had to go through and re-delete every message I'd ever deleted. Like, a hundred thousand of them.

Good times.

I chugged my way through 2007, 2008, 2009. Then I got to 2010. Then I got to April 2010. Then I realized that very soon, I'd hit May 2010. I started paying attention.

You see, in May 2010, something unpleasant happened that I've never talked about in this space -- only offline, to kind and supportive friends. I'll speak in generalities. Essentially, I received an abrupt and very disgruntled email from someone I'd considered a friend, chiding me in no uncertain terms for something clumsy I'd done. Or, rather, said. Like, over a month previously. Would I have done better to keep my mouth shut? Absolutely. Did I intend any malice by it? Certainly not. As I said, clumsy.

At the time, mortified, I immediately fired off an abject apology. I never received a reply.

I learned a lot from that experience ... but the lessons learned are not the point here. The point is that the wound from that email stung me all summer. I felt embarrassed and regretful, yes, but also misunderstood and hurt. It took months of prayer and occasional pouring out of my heart to various friends who happened to be near when I needed an ear. Their words to me so often felt like God's words made audible.

So, yes, I found the email. I looked at its title and realized that I no longer remember the wording of her rebuke. I didn't need to re-read it -- no need to poke old scars to see if they'd bleed. I realized that I could think of this woman without any heartache, but with compassion, knowing that most people do not turn and bite the hand of friendship unless they are in pain themselves.

I also noticed something as my mouse hovered over that section of the Inbox. The same week I received that email, another message had arrived from a different person -- someone local whom I'd only known online. She wanted a quote for an article she was writing. One thing led to another, and over a year later, we're great friends -- and so are our children.

Somehow, I'd never put the two together, never remembered how immediately the blossom succeeded the thorn. As one friendship ended, another -- dare I say better one? -- was just beginning. Why did I dwell so much on the hurt and the loss?

Perhaps I needed the lessons learned from the loss of the one friendship to make me more fit for others. I believe the Lord was gently reminding me of the power of words -- those carelessly spoken to hurt, those  gently spoken to bless and heal.


Tsh @ Simple Mom said...

Beautifully written, Hannah. And I'm very glad to know you in "real" life now, too. :)

The WoodLand School said...

What a lovely post, Hannah! I'm sorry for the pain ... but I'm so grateful you shared the lesson.

J-ma said...

This is such a help to me right now as I am in pain from some harsh words. It is so true that our words can either tear down or bless and heal. Thanks for the encouragement, Hannah!

cjoy said...

I, too, am so glad you shared this. I have experienced that lesson many times over. And poured my heart out in the same manner, stinging, in need of soothing.

I have found riches upon riches in blossoming friendships, appreciated God's design in the timing. And in looking back, realizing that it was their loss, not really mine, for if their heart is not ready to forgive and heal, they have nothing to offer me.

What unexpected understanding fromt the merging of email accounts! :D
Hugs to you from far away...

by r. said...

Wow, thank you for sharing that Hannah. I am so impressed with God's ability to heal, and with your ability to look back and see something positive you hadn't known was there. wonderful!

Danica Newton said...

Very, very VERY good post, Hannah. I, too, have been on the receiving end of such chastisement. You're right. It does sting.

Julie said...

Wonderful post, I think many of us can relate in one way or another...I agree with other comment, very encouraging...big huge hugs for the hurt...So wonderful that a better friendship replaced it!


Great and timely post. I'm about to let go of someone because they refuse to heal. It's hard, but my Higher Power (through your words) just reassured me that it's the right thing to do.