If you don’t learn how to get real with who you are and the skin you’re in, then chances are someone will come along and strip away all of your delusions. They’ll do it with malice and intention, leaving behind sticky residue where you had carefully placed all those pretty stickers that tell the story of who you want to be.
I can’t be sure whether these people are guided by some kind of wild angel sent to help us learn all those big, important, messy lessons, or whether these people are just regular assholes, like you and me, indulging their need to expose everyone else before everyone else exposes them. But whatever they are, the destruction they cause is real and it has to be dealt with.
First, let me tell you how I handled it, so that you’ll know exactly what not to do if you encounter a similar situation. This person for me is a woman who I will inevitably have to be around several times a year for the rest of my life or hers, whichever ends first, and if God has a wicked sense of humor then probably long after that as well.
She’s not someone I would freely associate with. She is skilled at identifying a person’s most concealed weaknesses- things they didn’t even realize affect them- and using it against them when her juice is running low.
We got into an argument over something that seems rather silly now, which is how it usually goes isn’t it? My friends came to my defense, and when she understandably felt ganged up on, she pulled every single insecurity of mine out of her arsenal and just…pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop.
I felt hollow and skinned.
She told me I was inferior, and she was right.
Words bled out that I, to this day, can’t even believe I said. Idle threats with heavy implications. There was no honor there. No integrity. Not even satisfaction. Just shameful retaliation, a tender ego, and a primitive drive to chase my own pain away, which is how I justified it. I’ve been justifying it even up until this very moment.
This was three or four years ago, and I haven’t even come close to forgiving her. We’ve all heard that bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die, right? Well my cup is half empty and my teeth are bared. If I even hear her name, a baker’s dozen of insults flies to the tip of my tongue.
Even though I am someone who sincerely tries to make it a habit of looking past human flaw and searching for soul, I am not shy about my disgust for her and the way she represents herself. There is an ice cold wall I’ve put up where she is concerned. Somewhere deep I know that there is more to her, but all I let myself see right now is the ugly. I do believe that says more about the shortcoming in my character than it does hers. Forgiveness is the F-word I don’t like to say.
There are two significant issues that have been hindering my growth, and that is one of them.
It’s time to move on.
Forgiving her does not mean we’ll become reacquainted. I genuinely do not like her, and that’s okay. I don’t have to like her. I don’t have to be liked by her. But I do have to move on. And I owe it to myself to do so with grace, which means taking responsibility for how I handled the situation, accepting that I am just as flawed as she is, and that I too said things that were mean and unwarranted. Things she didn’t deserve to hear. Things that I knew would hurt her, and that I probably didn’t even mean, not fully anyway.
So, now that I’m beginning to understand the difference between who I’ve been, who I am, and who I intend to be:
I will inhale forgiveness, and let it fill me until there is no room for resentment.
And I will exhale grace, so that it settles around me wherever I stand.
There is honor in that. There is integrity. And there is most certainly satisfaction.