I’ve had several confrontations in the last few weeks, all revolving around the same issue, but the connotations behind the words as different as can be.
I have not kept it secret that life has been hell for a while now. I have been criticized for my honesty, but I hate people who pretend that everything in their life is all peachy and perfect. No one has a perfect life. I also know the more one talks about issues such as chronic illness, especially those classified as “invisible illnesses”, depression, suicide, and spiritual discouragement, the less power they may end up having in a person’s life. I think about a young child who is afraid of something in the night. If that child, in his fear, starts to cry, and mommy and/or daddy hears his cries, one or both of them will go to their little boy to find the cause of his tears. They encourage their little boy to tell them what is wrong, and they will say words to reassure him that whatever may be frightening him, it’s going to be okay. If the little child is left alone through that fearful time, ignored, those fears become larger than his little mind can handle.
Depression, suicidal thoughts, fear of the unknown in chronic illness–all these, if bottled up inside a person, can grow to be so consuming that eventually no way out is perceived.
That said, the above would be the ideal when it comes to speaking out about such very personal and emotional issues.
The ideal is seldom achieved though.
Through words sent in text messages or social media messages or voicemails (since talking on the phone isn’t something I do well when I’m not depressed–depression finds me sending all calls to voicemail), I have had to endure some insensitive remarks. When in a better place, I can chalk such words up to lack of knowledge. But in the place I have been in (and continue to find myself), it has become harder and harder to not allow hurt and anger to dictate my actions. I have been told that much of what I am enduring is my own fault. Would anyone look at a person dying from cancer and say to them, “Well, you know this IS your own fault because you spent years eating crappy food.” I HIGHLY doubt it. Would anyone dare say to a mom who lost her son to a drug overdose, “Well, if you had insisted that he be in youth group and other church activities in high school maybe this wouldn’t have been the path he chose.” No. Way. No one would be so callous as to say that. Yet, people have thought it okay to say words to me that insinuate the place I find myself in right now is my own fault.
To be fair, not everyone has acted in such a poor manner. A very small number of people (and by very small I mean they don’t even take up the fingers on one hand) have been loving, supportive, and deeply concerned. They have not accused nor pointed out what I could be doing differently. One person has called me everyday to check in. Every. Day. I don’t answer the phone. Every day the message goes to voicemail. The person asks me to send a text or e-mail update when I can. Some days I have and others I haven’t even been able to do that. Still, the next day at some point, Toes by Zac Brown Band plays on my phone, signaling an incoming call. Again, a cheery message is left. “Hi, Becky, just calling to check in and see how today is going. Hope it is a little better for you and you are enjoying the cooler weather. Give me an update when you can.”
In stark contrast, some have decided to walk out of my life completely. A few have unfriended me on Facebook and left me “to go to hell”.
Most fall somewhere between the two.
I’ve been told that I need to extend grace to those who have said hurtful things to me or left me hurtful messages. Some may disagree with me, but I have shown grace. I have shown grace by not telling them off with words that could cut deeper than the words they left for me to read. I have shown grace by staying out of their lives as much as possible. I have avoided human contact with non family people as much as possible. It is best this way. The question that burns in my mind, though, is why is no grace shown to the person enveloped in the darkness? Why is that person supposed to pull themselves up by the bootstraps, put on a fake smile, and dance through life like no one is watching? Where are the people who claim that “doing life” with others is part of their calling as a Christian?
Oh, maybe doing life only happens among those who happen to be loving life at the time.
This is why I put up walls. Whoever said it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all obviously never had their heart ripped into pieces by people.