I have been discovering that I have hurt some people and did not even realize it. I was not paying attention, did not keep in touch, years ago I said something off-handed or glibly that was misunderstood or subtly unkind… I have also learned that those offenses, left unresolved, can destroy a friendship for life. You would not think that one petty offense could undo years of blessings and hours and hours of positive interaction, but it’s true of all relationships and all of God’s children. One remark, gesture, failure to follow up, et al, might be small to me, but it can lead to the loss of someone I thought would never give up on me.
Sadly, the one time I doubt someone’s word and then find out that I was wrong, I’ve lost that relationship—-not always, but oftentimes. I’m not supposed to go around like a simpleton believing everything I hear, but when someone I love tells me something that I doubt, is it not, all things considered, and if no one else is hurt by believing them, better to choose to believe them? God will judge the matter, but I think that He has instilled within me, and love drives me with desire to “believe all things” from those I love. That trust creates a bedrock of stability for those that need to know that somebody trusts him/her. Sometimes we are the lost hope they have…
I am reminded of the need….and the gift of listening. In our topsy-turvy world, am I listening to those people, right now, today, that need to be heard? If not, I may find out in ten years that my deafness produced years of angst to my friend. And if that does happen, if I have hurt someone, I must be able at that point, to listen, express compassion, lower my tendency to defend myself, accept responsibility for my part of their pain, attempt to reconcile the friendship, and then, most difficult of all, give them the space/distance/time they need to recover. I cannot heal them, go back in time or undo the damage.
When someone says I’ve hurt them, the last thing they need/want me to do is deny it, or tell them that they should not be wounded, or defend myself. They need to hear me say that I am sorry that they are hurting and how can I help.
And then, as I thought of all of this, I thought about how my Savior responded and responds to my wounds. When I come to Him hurt, He listens to me. He does not always change the causes of my hurt or turn things around to my favor, but He listens, whispers wisdom to me, reminds me about what matters, counsels me, sets my feet on higher ground and expands my understanding of “His ways”. He has never uttered a single word to me that causes me to question my value and favor in His eyes——quite the opposite. Even when I am wrong, He reminds me that He loves me, though temporarily disappointed.