One of my closest friends visited my best friend and I one day at work to catch up and meet with another friend who went home for a vacation. It’s been a while since I talked to her, so we updated each other with the state of our lives. I gave her the short version of what was up with me, and before I was finished, I can already tell her reaction, and I sort of knew what she was going to say.
As expected, she was pissed off — and she said it in her really nice way, because she’s really the nicest among our group of friends. And also, as expected, she started ranting about it (in a very nice way, too), and then she said what I knew she would say:
“We don’t want you to get hurt.”
With that, my best friend, who was listening to the conversation while eating dinner, snorted. “I’m not a part of that ‘we’. She needs to go through this.”
* * *
You know how sometimes we hesitate to do things, or say things, because we fear hurting the other person, or we fear making things awkward? Sometimes, we hesitate because we’re not sure how the other person would react, or what they’re thinking. Then with all our hesitation, we decide not to do anything anymore because it might be better to do it later on, if there’s a chance. Sometimes, we don’t even hesitate — we don’t do things anymore, because we think the other person will just take offense and whatever you do will just make things worse.
And I totally agree with that: we need to be careful with one another and treat one another with love and think about what we say, because we do have the capacity to hurt the people we love the most. I agree with that, and I believe in discerning when to say what you need to say, and the right timing to open things up and all that.
But I also believe that sometimes, we need to give the people we love enough credit that they can take what we dish without totally ruining everything.
It’s just like what my two friends said: yes, they don’t want to see me hurting…but how will I ever learn if I don’t go through some things on my own?
I appreciate the thought, really, of how people don’t want to see me hurting. I really, really do. No one wants to see the people they love hurting, or sad, or even just upset. If anything, I would want to spare the people I love of how life can hurt them. And of course I don’t want to get hurt, too.
But there are times when the only way to get to the end is through some things, and we are never guaranteed a smooth ride through. No one said it was easy. And no one ever got through life without getting hurt.
No one ever got through life without hurting the people they love. This doesn’t give you an excuse to just hurt the people around you intentionally. This isn’t about being mean or manipulative or tactless or just plain harsh just so you can prove that you’re right and they’re wrong. It’s about showing them you love and trust them enough to know that they can take whatever you dish. It means not walking on eggshells around the person every time so you won’t hurt them, ever. That’s just impossible. And sometimes, being too careful with them just hurts more. Yes, there is a time to be careful with what you say or do, to tread carefully and speak gently. But sometimes, we mask this carefulness as an escape, as a way to not be responsible for breaking the other person’s heart so you won’t get blamed for the fallout.
That’s a cop out, and perhaps a little bit selfish. We have to give the people we love a little more credit. We have to stop thinking that people are fragile all the time. I’d like to believe that they’re stronger than we think they are, and if we act out of true, selfless love and sincerity, it won’t be that bad. I mean, I’d like to hope it won’t be. Don’t you trust their love enough that they can take whatever you have to say? Don’t you trust yourself enough to say things with enough grace so you won’t leave scars? Don’t you trust that you can forgive each other after everything? That you can move forward from this, and start anew?
The more important thing, I think, is to make the most loving choices when these moments come. To choose to love, and forgive, and to give grace, despite everything. To be present, when the fallout comes and to stay through it. There’s a right time to give comfort and be kind, to offer your shoulder to cry on, or even back off when you think what you’ll say will just hurt. There’s a time to cry, there’s a time to grumble and be mad about things for a while, if it helps. But there’s also time to open up, to face each other, to be vulnerable and to trust that the love and care you have for each other is strong enough to weather these storms.
We need to break these walls we build around ourselves and around the people we love in the pretense of protection. Let us find the courage to see and be seen, and be brave enough to love each other with a fierce love that doesn’t make (or take) excuses. Let us love each other with the kind of love that speaks of the truth even when it hurts, gives unlimited grace and forgives. Love is tough enough to handle tough love. Love endures all things, after all.