A couple days ago I sent an awkward, vulnerable email to a friend of mine. I'd been hurt by something I probably shouldn't have been hurt by, but I knew, if I was going to get over it, I was going to have to say something. So, after putting it off all day, I finally chained myself to my laptop and wrote the stupid message. It was pretty petty. But it was good to say. Because we're friends.
What I didn't know at the time was that my friend was traveling out of town for a funeral--which meant she wouldn't respond to my email right away. Which meant I would feel sick and vulnerable for many hours.
What on earth did people do when they had to wait on the United States Postal Service??
Here were my thoughts during the waiting:
Me 1: Why is she not responding?
Me 2: Because you totally overreacted and she's trying to figure out a nice way to say you're an idiot.
Me 1: Maybe she's just caught up at work or cleaning the house or stuck in traffic?
Me 2: Probably not.
Me 1: Maybe her phone fell in the toilet.
Me 2: And her computer, too? Be real, she's breaking up with us.
Me 1: You're depressing.
Me 2: I'm realistic. We're pathetic.
And so on...
Meanwhile, in other news, I was fielding messages and comments about my most recent blog post. A lot of people read it. Some of them felt weird about it and wrote to tell me. One particular message was lovely and very vulnerable. I could tell reading it she was hurt. And sad. And feeling awkward about feeling hurt and sad.
So you know what I did? I put off replying. I didn't know exactly what to say. I had errands to run. I'd get to it later. Later became tomorrow. And now tomorrow had rolled around and I still hadn't responded to her message.
I'd scroll past it to check for the new message I figured would come any minute...
Do you see the problem?
For hours I obsessed over an email. But it was the wrong email.
I obsessed over the email I wanted someone else to send me, about the way I was feeling, about how someone might be thinking of me. And all the while someone else, someone across the country, was checking her phone wondering (if she was anything like me) when I was going to respond and whether or not I thought I thought she was pathetic.
Sometimes the Golden Rule sneaks up to bite you on the rump.
Last week I stood outside my daughter's first grade Bible class helping her devote these words to memory: "Treat others the way you want to be treated." And yet here I was so blatantly disregarding that elementary truth.
Luckily, I realized my error. I sent the message I needed to send. It was hard to write. But I wrote it and sent it and felt really glad to have done it.
Within thirty seconds of hitting send (I am not kidding) I received an email from from my friend--the very email I'd been waiting hours for--reassuring me that she did like me and yes, I was being a little bit stupid, but stupid was okay.
I'm 100% positive God held that email just to make me send the one that needed sending--to remind me to treat other people the way I want to be treated and to wake me up to my blinding self-obsession.
So many times, when I'm feeling jilted, hurt, bothered, inconvenienced, or abandoned by someone, I am simultaneously responsible for doing the same thing to someone else. But it's not their pain I'm bothered by. It's mine.
That's bad. And I desperately want to fix it.
Tonight I'm praying I would treat others the way I want them to treat me. That I would focus more on what I can do to show love for other people than on what other people ought to be doing for me. I'll pray for you, too--that we would all forget about what's "owed" us and go first in doing good.
So go already. Write an email or something...