I was caught completely off guard last week. Last winter, prior to taking medical leave for chemotherapy treatment, a co-worker constantly made what I felt were rude, insensitive remarks. I tried to politely let her know I did not appreciate the comments. Finally I decided she just did not get it and as I wouldn't be seeing her again until the fall, I shoved the remarks aside. With all of the layoffs and transfers within our school district over the past five years there was a good chance I'd never see her again so that was that. This was a big mistake for me.
I went back to school in the fall and nothing further was said. Until last week. What was said isn't important. The bottom line is I was caught completely of guard and the end result was that I let her know exactly how I felt about her comments. Trust me. It wasn't pretty. It never is when things suddenly boil over. Unfortunately, in trying to understand what the problem was and in trying to fix things between us, I suddenly found myself physically blocked into a corner. I felt like a wounded and cornered animal. You guessed it. I acted accordingly.
In my line of work, we are warned repeatedly not to do this to people as it usually will exacerbate the situation. I knew this and my co-worker, who is actually a social worker, knew this as well. In an unguarded moment, all of our training and common sense went out the window. It was not pretty. I'm glad it was more than an hour before school started because...well...it wasn't pretty.
A co-worker who had witnessed this stopped by to see me about 10 minutes later. Although I had finally stopped shaking, I was still angry. She tried to tell me I was justified. She tried to say it wasn't my fault. She told me the other person was completely out of line. They had acted inappropriately. I'd tried to distance myself. I had warned her to just let me be for awhile. Everyone had seen the problems I'd had with this woman after my diagnosis last winter. Everyone knew I'd try to be polite about it. Everyone knew she had a bad habit of saying the wrong things at the wrong time. No one could blame me. It didn't matter. I hadn't acted in a manner becoming a princess
. I knew it but unfortunately I was still hurt and angry.
Over the next few days, I tried to justify my actions. I told myself some people just don't get it unless you really come down tough on them. That may be true but did that really justify my behavior. My wise husband let just let me talk about it. He knew I'd do the right thing eventually.
The right thing. There was the rub. I knew I had to forgive her as well as ask for forgiveness. Oh boy. How was I going to do that without stirring things up again? She was the one who had rubbed salt into the wound. Didn't my feelings matter at all?
Early this morning, I bowed my head. I knew things had to be fixed but I hurt too. What was I going to do?
I thought for awhile remembering a conversation I had with my son once upon a time. He'd messed up bad and my advice to him was to ask God to fix the mistake he'd made. I decided that was still good advice.
"Father God, I know I have to fix this but I don't know how. I don't want to start another argument. You also know I was really hurt by this person. Please let me know what to do. Help me to understand why she has continued to say the things she has and help her to understand why I feel the way I do. I can't do this myself but I know you can help me do it. Please. Just fix my mistake!" With a lighter heart, I headed off to school.
I slipped my hand into my mailbox and pulled out the usual school mail. A sealed envelope with my name on it slipped onto the floor. I picked it up and headed to my classroom. I opened up the envelope and pulled out a card. I opened it and froze. The words, I never meant to hurt you, jumped out at me. I quickly scanned the handwritten note. Tears filled my eyes. I headed to the office and arrived just as my co-worker was coming out.
"I need to talk to you." I said.
Within the next couple of moments, we were in each others arms.
"I didn't mean to hurt you..."
"I'm so sorry I didn't make things more clear..."
"I should have..."
"Of course. Can you forgive me?"
"It's already done..."
We shed tears together and God smiled.
Forgiveness. It's a beautiful thing and it is a vital part of living like a child of the King.